Children are not reading books, it’s scandalous – So as parents, how can we help our kids read more?
It’s been reported over the last few years that the percentage of children reading for fun is on the decline, one report said last year in fact that 10% less children are reading at home than the previous year.
It’s just not cool to be caught reading a book apparently. 1 in 5 children have said that they would be embarrassed if their peers caught them reading a book. Nerds read books they say. Personally I think nerds are cool but not anymore it seems!
Of course helping your kids to read is one of the most important things as a parent that you can do. Evidence shows that reading for pleasure can determine whether a child does well at school. It develops the brain, our imagination, our vocabulary and opens our mind to many worlds, things that we might not see around us in every day life. Yes, children will learn to read in school, but it’s a chore, they need to find the magical joy of reading and its up to us as parents to do this.
Start young when they are babies, they are never too young. They will love to listen to your voice and to look at the pictures, helping you to turn the pages as they get older. The best way to encourage the love of reading is to read aloud to your children, it becomes a time for you to share together, a special time, that no child or parent should miss out on.
Even when your child can read for themselves, still keep reading aloud to them, not only does it help to them learn expression, they will still enjoy this time with you. They will love listening to your voice, how you read the book and can maybe understand how it helps them enjoy the story. Now, you can take it in turns to read a page or a paragraph each. This will get them used to reading aloud for fun and will help them with the embarrassment of having to read aloud at school. We all remember that!
When they are older still don’t stop sharing this time, read a book that you would both enjoy. Get away with it for as long as you can, you maybe even lucky enough to be sharing a book with them into their teens. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Artemis Fowl with my teenage son, something I would have probably never have read as an adult, which also taught me that actually adults can read children’s or teen books.
Children love to choose their own books, it gives them a sense of accomplishment, rather than being told by someone else you will “read this”. This is what separates reading what we are told to school and reading what we like for pleasure.
The best way to get young children to look for and choose their own books is to join a library – it’s free and there are hundreds of thousands of books to choose from, and it doesn’t waste any money if they choose a book and decide they don’t like it. Here they won’t be frightened of making a mistake or maybe choosing a book that they wouldn’t usually read.
For birthdays or Christmas or during children’s book week, take them along to book shops or stores, let them smell the delicious new books – oh sorry that’s just me. But let them see the colours and the new books the way the are presented is much different to the library and will fuel their desire for books.
Show them books that you might seen offered online, such as The Windsor Caper! If they are older and would prefer to read an ebook on a kindle or other device them let them, reading is reading. The same goes for comics and magazines, if they are reluctant to read books allow them to read other mediums. Some parents would rather their child read real books but comics can be very helpful encouraging children to read when they otherwise wouldn’t pick up a books. Comics are also believe to be beneficial for children with dyslexia or have any visual problems.
We live in busy times and rarely have enough time ourselves to read, even when, we know we enjoy reading and it’s relaxing. Make some time for yourself and instead of switching on the TV, sit down, put your feet up and read a book. Just seeing you reading regularly will encourage your child to do the same.
Reading doesn’t have to take a lot of time but they do need to be a regular occurrence, not just once a week but 3/4 times a week – every day even better!
Maybe now we have the answer to – As Parents, how can we help our kids read more?
Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
Author Michelle D Harris