- Children may have school reading books that they have to read, but let your child choose their reading material some of the time too. Whether it’s a comic, a book that now seems too young for them or even the writing on the back of the cereal box that has been designed to attract your child’s attention and tantalise them with its promise! If they are keen, curious and interested, that is a great attitude for them to bring to their reading. For example, reading a cookbook is still reading, but it has the added benefit that a child is reading and following a set of instructions to cook or bake something.
- Choose a book that has been adapted into a film that is appropriate for your children to watch. Read the book to your children, a chapter at a time nice and regularly, and when you have finished the book, watch the film together. This will create a great discussion about whether the story is told best by the book or the film. Your child can learn to give voice to their opinion and to practice and enjoy their debating skills!
- Take your children along to book shops and libraries when they have visiting authors and storytelling sessions. To have a story read by a new voice in a new place will help them to enjoy a story they might not have chosen for themselves, especially if they have the opportunity to hear an author read their own book. If this isn’t possible, visit the website of your child’s favourite author or illustrator. These sites often have activities for children to do and biographical information about the author or illustrator. Also, check out the websites of children’s publishers. For example, Usborne books have a free online game called ‘Teach Your Monster to Read’ and the Scholastic site has many book and author related games and activities.
- Create a special reading place and time in which to read with your child. Maybe set up an area with cushions and a blanket. My children love to have a story whilst we all lie-down together on my bed. Wherever you read, make sure it is well-lit, comfortable and as free of distractions and noise as is possible in your house! Ritualise reading time and schedule it into your family’s week as often as you can.
- Avoid overcorrecting your child whilst they are reading. If a book is proving really hard for them, you could swap it for another, read alternate pages with them to give them a rest and a bit of good role-modelling in between, or even read the page first whilst they follow along and then let them read it after you. When was the last time you enjoyed an activity in which you were constantly corrected, made to repeat yourself and felt pressured to perform? Not recently I would imagine! So make reading time relaxed and a time in which it is ok for your children to make mistakes, have a go and to ask for help.
First published in my parenting column in the Croydon Advertiser on 31st May 2013
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