It’s not always easy to encourage children to read regularly, but there are a few things you can do that will help boost their confidence so soon they won’t be without their nose in a book…
1.Establish a routine
Children thrive on routine and will begin to look forward to the moments they spend either quietly lost in a story, or cosied up to their parents or siblings. Bedtime is perfect for this as it will help them calm down before sleep and is a great way to discourage screen use before bed (which is proven to keep them awake at night).
If the evening doesn’t work for your family, you could set aside some time on a weekend morning, or in the afternoon after school or nursery, or after dinner. Having a dedicated space for reading will encourage them to stay focused too – a cosy nook or corner of the room, with blankets, pillows and plenty of books to choose from.
This is a great way for children to develop their speech and language skills, as well as their comprehension. Try picking a book that is slightly above their reading level and read it aloud to them, so they can begin to hear how more complex words and sentences should sound. Then they can build up to it themselves.
2. Read aloud and read together
If your child has a particular favourite book they like reading, encourage them to read it aloud to you – as they are familiar with it they will naturally be more confident in telling the story. If you don’t have much time to spend reading with them regularly, try playing audio books – car journeys are perfect for this!
3. Question everything
Whatever age they are, asking your children questions about the book they are reading will keep them engaged and will help to develop their critical thinking. From asking them to point out what they can see in a picture book, to why they think the main character reacted a certain way to a situation, it will help them reflect on the story and ignite their imagination.
4. Make your bookshelf inclusive
It’s important for children to see the world around them reflected in the stories they read and the characters they love. Make sure the books you buy or borrow from the library are written and illustrated by people from different cultures, genders and backgrounds. Representation is so important – if children don’t see themselves or their friends in the books they read, they may not think the stories are relevant for them.
5. Motivation is key!
For every 10 books they read, either with you or alone, reward them. You don’t have to spoil your children with new toys or sugary sweets, it could be as simple as letting them decide what to have for dinner, or picking a film they want to watch or what weekend activity they would like to do. For older children it may be a small increase in pocket money, or letting them stay out or up later. Find whatever works for your family.
If you’d like to find out more about Beards & Books, including our storytelling events and mentoring programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org.