30 November, 2023

How to get them reading

How to get them reading - How to get them reading

How to get them reading!

A growing body of evidence indicates that reading for pleasure has numerous benefits that can improve our lives in many ways, socially, emotionally, and academically. Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status (OECD, 2002). Reading for pleasure can boost academic achievement, provide a foundation for critical, digital, and information literacy, improve confidence and self-esteem, lower stress, and improve mental health. It enhances vocabulary and communication skills, boosts creativity, and develops empathy and appreciation of perspectives that may be different to our own.  Encouraging children to read for fun independently can be a challenge, but it’s a great way to help them develop a lifelong love of reading.


Here are some ways to encourage young readers:


  1. Give them their own books: having access to resources and having books of their own has an impact on children’s attainment. There is a positive relationship between the estimated number of books in the home and attainment (Clark 2011). Children who have books of their own enjoy reading more and read more frequently (Clark and Poulton 2011).
  2. Allow for choice and encourage your child to follow their interests: An important factor in developing reading for pleasure is choice; choice and interest are highly related (Schraw et al, 1998; Clark and PhythianSence, 2008), so let your young children choose the books they read. You can do this by keeping books on a shelf they have regular access to or presenting them with two to three books and letting them choose. Let them read the same book, or same genre of reading material. For older children, you can help them find books that match their interests.


  1. Make reading a part of your child’s daily routine: Find a regular time for reading in your child’s day, so that they can begin to expect it as part of their routine. This can be any time of day. Some children enjoy reading before bed, but others can just be too exhausted at night. It might be better for some children to read just after dinner, or in the morning after breakfast, when they have more energy. You can encourage your child to track their reading using a weekly reading chart. This will help them celebrate their progress. You could create a cozy place in your home that you can call the ‘reading corner’, and let your child decorate it with their favorite books and items, so they look forward to going there to read.


  1. Read with them: Parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading; children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued (Clark and Rumbold, 2006). When you can, try to make sure they see you reading, or read with them, so they know adults read for fun too!


  1. Take breaks while reading: Your child doesn’t have to read an entire book in one go! Any time spent sharing or talking about a book is beneficial, even if it’s just a couple of minutes at a time. If they have to close the book early because it’s time for dinner, or they’re just losing interest, that’s okay. Reading can take a lot of mental energy and taking breaks gives children a chance to slowly build the mental stamina they need, so that soon they will be able to read for longer stretches of time.


  1. Create a reading challenge: You can create a reading challenge for your child, such as reading a certain number of books in a month or reading books from different genres. This can help motivate your child to read more and explore new books. Literacy-targeted rewards, such as books or book vouchers have been found to be more effective in developing reading motivation than rewards that are unrelated to the activity (Clark and Rumbold, 2006).


  1. Read aloud: Reading aloud to your child can help them develop a love of reading and improve their comprehension skills. Even older children can benefit from being read to and with. You can also take turns reading aloud to each other, which can be a fun way to bond and share stories.


This week’s reading recommendations from staff and students are included here, and you can always check out the English Department blog for reading inspiration!

Rachel Rhodes
Head of English