Updated July 2020
We’re still at the beginning of our experiment to produce an avid reader as Little M is only seven, but she’s already showing an interest in books and reads for enjoyment. With book-obsessed parents, she’s definitely had a head start, but just like other kids, she’s not always in the mood for reading. Here are some techniques that have worked for us:
Create a Reading Habit
This only has to be for 10 minutes a day, but create a set time and place where your child can read to you. We sometimes take it in turns to read a few pages each which takes off the pressure and adds variety. Afterwards Little M has a snack and a play, but she knows that this has to read her pages first. It’s much harder to get her to sit down later on as she’s either too tired or distracted. We make this time fun and cosy so it’s not a chore.
Let Your Child Choose Their Own Book
Even the smallest children have preferences when it comes to reading so let them choose their own book. Sometimes this might mean reading the same title over and over again but if they enjoy a particular story then let them take the lead. Little M still likes to read picture books at seven and we fully encourage her to enjoy these. Reading comes in all shapes and sizes.
Break Up Reading Sessions
When Little M is struggling with a book, we don’t force her to read it all in one go. Instead we focus on getting her to sound out the words slowly encouraging her for effort then call it a day after a few pages. It’s better for both of us to finish the activity on a positive note rather than turn reading into a frustrating experience.
Encourage Your Reader
Rather than tell her that she’s got a word wrong, we ask her to try again or sound it out. This one is pretty hard to do because we know the words so well ourselves, but if we always say ‘no’, or ‘that’s wrong’, we’ve noticed that it makes her wary about reading. We aim to keep it neutral or positive and motivate her to problem solve on her own. This doesn’t mean praising indiscriminately, just choosing how we point out errors.
Let Them Take Control
Children love to be in charge. We ask Little M to explain the story to us and point out details. She gets satisfaction from being in the driving seat. As she’s grown older, she’s also started to predict future events and how the plot might progress. Make time to listen and discuss.
Build Reading Into Your Child’s Daily Life
If you want to encourage your child to read then integrate this into all aspects of your daily life. For instance, ask them to read out board game instructions, signs, recipes – basically anything! Not every kid enjoys reading fiction so give them plenty of chance to practise different forms of word recognition.
Set An Example
It’s tough to find time to read books when we have busy lives, but if you can show your child that you enjoy reading then they’re much more likely to have a go themselves. If you don’t have time to pick up a book yourself, then factor in 10 minutes to read to them before bedtime – that way you’ll both be able to enjoy the story together. Little M knows we love books and so she loves them too.
Don’t Compare Your Child’s Progress to Other Kids
This is so hard sometimes, especially when talking to other parents at school but every kid has their own reading path. The most important thing is that your child enjoys the process. Keep on trying out different books and techniques to see what sparks their interest. You can also ask their teacher for support.
How Do You Encourage Your Child To Read?
So for us it’s mainly about keeping it routine, bite-sized and fun. Have you tried any of the above or have any other tips for encouraging children to read? We’d love to try them out!
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