The importance of reading with children
'So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall’ ~ Roald Dahl
The importance of reading (for children) cannot be emphasised enough, and I genuinely believe that as parents we should prioritise reading, and do our utmost to make it a daily habit. Reading sets children up for life, and it’s one of the best gifts we can give them.
I’m pretty sure we all know the benefits of reading with children - it stimulates their imagination and creativity, expands their world, and encourages a thirst for learning. It’s imperative for building vocabulary and developing language skills, it exercises the brain, enhances concentration, and offers an overall understanding of the big wide world around them. We all know this, but what if getting our kids to read is easier said than done?
Some children love reading and are at their happiest when they’ve got their nose stuck in a book, and will pick up a book at every available opportunity and get lost in the pages. Other children are more reluctant and may see it as a chore. Some are natural readers and read quickly and fluently, tackling new and complex words with ease, some find it a struggle. All kids are different and that’s ok, but there are ways to encourage kids to not only read more, but to actually enjoy it. After all there’s nothing better than the magic of getting lost in a book!
Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift ~ Kate Dicamillo
So how can we encourage our kids to read more (and actually enjoy it)?
*Read aloud with your kids. Even if they are independent readers it’s still extremely beneficial to read aloud together sometimes (and think of the bonding!)
*Let them see you reading - children imitate their parents, so give them something great to imitate! Put down your smartphone, switch off the TV and pick up a book yourself.
*Have books around the house. You don’t have to spend a fortune either - you can find some fantastic bargains in charity shops (that’s what I do!) or you can join your local library (browsing the shelves and selecting books can be a fun activity to do together and can really spark an interest in reading). Reading should be a choice and not a chore so keep it interesting and be open to gathering up a variety of reading materials - it doesn’t have to just be books - magazines, comics and cookbooks are great too, or anything your child wants to read. My eldest loves to read the leaflets that come through our letterbox - bizarre, but it all counts! As J.K Rowling said 'If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book.'
*On the subject of making books accessible, it’s useful to have one in your bag at all times so if you’re sat in the doctor's waiting room or waiting for siblings to finish their swimming lessons, you can reach for the book instead of turning to YouTube on your phone in order to entertain the little ones.
*Make it fun - grab a blanket, make a den, get some cookies and milk and enjoy the magic of a story! The fun doesn’t have to end when you’ve finished the book either - talk about it afterwards - the story, the characters, who your child’s favourite character was, what did s/he like most about the book, what was the funniest part, what might happen next etc...
*Make a special ‘reading place’. Perhaps you and your child could create a special reading nook - a corner of a bedroom with a bean bag and a blanket, an inviting book stack or a pretty shelf, and a little ‘do not disturb sign.’ Get them involved as much as possible - they’re more likely to invest in it emotionally and want to spend time there.
*Don’t rush it - if your child is a reluctant reader or struggles with reading, don’t rush it or be too forceful. Going from zero to ‘sitting down with a book for an hour every day’ is too much to expect and you don’t want to put them off for life, so take it slow and start with short sessions. If your child struggles with words, be patient, give lots of praise, and don’t be critical. It’s important to build confidence at this stage.
*Don’t give up. If your child struggles with reading or doesn’t enjoy it, don’t give it up as a lost cause. Practise WILL improve your child’s reading, and just because they don’t enjoy reading now, doesn’t mean they won’t start to enjoy it one day. But one thing’s for sure, if you don’t do it, they’ll never get to that stage! Stick with it, and keep trying new things - switch fiction for non-fiction, longer stories for short stories, throw in some funny rhyming tales, or subscribe to a magazine that your child will be interested in (Lego, Baking, Pets, Gaming, Arts and Crafts). Swap bedtime reading (if your child is too tired and gets frustrated at that time) for snuggling up on a Sunday morning, or try ten minutes after school.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go”
~ Dr. Seuss
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject (you can comment below) - do you and your children enjoy reading or do you find it difficult to find the time? Do you have a special routine or a favourite time for reading i.e. bedtime or on a weekend?
Much love, Fran xxx
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Fran Grant is a writer and children's author. She is also the wife of a very patient husband and the mother of 3 energetic little boys. As a self-confessed bookworm and book hoarder, she is a huge believer in keeping the magic of reading alive for children. After many years in the corporate world, Fran is now fulfilling her lifelong ambition of writing books.
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