A World of Reading
The ability to read is a vital building block for children to learn at school, as well as a great source of entertainment that gets their imaginations flowing.
The key thing to remember is that children’s reading skills will develop at different rates; there is no need to worry if your child is not learning at the same pace as a cousin or friend of a similar age, or to try and pressure them into learning to read faster. As with all skills, they will learn at their own pace – the best thing you can do is support them on their way. If you are interested in how reading skills develop, please see our article on how children learn to read.
The most important way to encouraging children to read is by making it an enjoyable experience. Here are our top tips to open your child up to a world of reading:
1. Let your child play with books
An infant chewing on the corner of a board book is still developing an interest in books. Soft fabric or wipe clean materials, textures (e.g. crinkly plastic) and mirrors are all good for encouraging pre-readers to handle books.
2. Cuddle together while you read
This will help your child associate reading with spending time together, allow you and your child to bond, and make it a nice experience for both of you.
3. Keep reading sessions short
Young children can only concentrate for a short amount of time. Dragging out reading sessions, and keeping your child sat still for a long time, can be painfully boring for them. Instead, try to spend around 10 minutes reading at a time – depending on the child, some will happily concentrate for longer, and others will become restless after only a few minutes. Your child will benefit most from whatever suits them best.
4. Get your child to interact with the book
Encourage them to name and point to pictures of objects in the book – maybe get them to pretend to ‘eat’ the yummy cake (acting out picking it up from the page and putting it in their mouth, and saying “yum”) or ‘stroke’ the cat. Pop-outs to pull and sound buttons to press are good for interaction too.
5. Bring the story to life
Read to your child with a cheery voice, and if you are an aspiring actor (or even if you’re not), you can also make the story more entertaining by putting on different voices for the characters as you read. This can really lift the story off the page for your child.
6. Ask your child questions about the story as you go
Keep their attention and test their understanding of the story by asking questions like, “Can you tell me what that dog is doing?” or, “What colour is that car?”.
7. Relate the story to your child’s own life
Children like being able to identify with stories, so comments like “Oh look, that girl’s got a blue dress like you!” can help your child do this.
8. Read fun, rude, silly, fantasy stories
Stories where children can laugh and use their imaginations are fun to read, will capture their attention, and encourage them to keep reading.
9. Praise your child and reward them for reading
Children love to hear how well they have done, so responding positively can keep your child wanting to read more. For example, you could give them a sticker on a reward chart for every book they read.
10. Make trips to the library into a treat
Let your child choose their own book – this allows them to feel independent, and means they can find something that interests them. You could also take them out for ice cream afterwards, to make a trip to the library more fun.
We hope you find these suggestions useful. For more ideas to help your child develop their reading skills, there are lots of good books, toys and apps on our website, as well as toys and apps for learning phonics. We particularly like the Joy of Reading app.
This post was written by Anna Taylor