Since its last record of improvement in literacy in 2005, UK has fallen to 23rd place in an international assessment of literacy. One out of five English children does not achieve the reading standard expected upon completion of primary school (Ofsted, 2012). This concern, which could be considered school-related, may however be more effectively addressed at home. Many parents complain that they have difficulty getting their children to read. The useful tips below are a response to these parents’ cry for help.
1. Let your child choose the books he wants to read.
Give your child the freedom to choose the books and material he is interested in reading. It doesn’t really matter if his choices of subject range from movie franchise plots, teen love, video games, sports statistics, jokes or even ancient aliens. If he is allowed to choose the material, the chances are much greater that he will read it and even ask for more.
2. Be flexible in the format of reading material.
Nowadays, reading is not at all confined to the traditional book or magazine format. There are numerous other equally effective formats out there, including comic books, graphic novels, e-books and even websites. Children may now read from their laptop, desktop, tablet, or game console. The good thing about this proliferation of options is that there’s sure to be one that will suit your child’s preferences, giving him more reasons to read and fewer excuses not to.
3. Be a reading role model yourself.
Sometimes, we are so concerned with our children’s lack of reading interest that we fail to realise that we are not such good role models for reading ourselves. The best way to get children interested in books early is by exposing them to a home where reading materials abound and everyone is seen to enjoy reading as part of everyday life. Show your children that you are an avid reader and supporter of novels, newspapers, and magazines.
4. Keep plenty of reading materials accessible.
Build a collection of books and other reading materials for all ages. Strew a variety of magazines, comic books, newspapers, novels, and even brochures all around the house – in the bedrooms, on the kitchen counter, beside the couch and even in the water closet and in the car. If it’s visible, then chances are greater that it will be read.
5. Make going to bookstore or library a fun experience.
Incorporate a trip to the bookstore or library into the weekend family outing repertoire, right before going to the supermarket or after dining at your favourite restaurant. Before going to the library, share ideas about which books you intend to borrow or have seen reviews of. If going to the bookstore or library is not feasible, go online and enjoy an intimate time with your children, picking out books that you both think are appropriate and ordering them together.
6. Read with your children.
See if your library has books in family packs. If not, you can borrow several copies of the book that you intend to read with your children. Reading the same book and having the chance to discuss developments as you read along increases interest levels as plots are clarified and characters are delved into. Never mind that you are reading “below” your level. It’s good to stay in touch with the child within us and at the same time, it gives you a chance to monitor what ideas and values your children are being exposed to.
7. Make reading a wholly positive experience.
Do not require or force your children to read. Nor should reading ever be used as a form of punishment. The most important thing to remember is that reading should be fun. You may want to associate reading with treats and rewards. These can range from tangible ones such as food and toys or intangibles such as loads of praise, choice of a preferred activity or permission to stay up later than usual.
8. Get them hooked on book series.
Introduce your children to appropriate book series. If they enjoy the first volume, chances are high that they themselves will be hounding you to get copies of the succeeding books.
9. Read aloud to your children even if they can already read by themselves.
Reading aloud to your children while you are cuddled up together adds the positive element of actual body warmth which serves to reinforce the whole experience of reading. With the older ones, you can alternate reading a page or two with short discussions about what had just been read.
10. Don’t give up trying to get your child to read.
If you’ve tried so many things but nothing seemed to work, don’t give up. Be creative! Go for the absurd and seemingly ridiculous. If your child doesn’t seem interested in a book you are suggesting right now, you can try again in the future but do offer other choices for the present. Just because he isn’t interested now doesn’t mean that he’ll never be interested.
It may be difficult and may perhaps even seem impossible. But with such a laudable goal, it is truly worth the effort.