Reading ability is such a key skill for children to enable them to progress well at school, it’s no wonder many parents worry about how their children are doing. I previously shared a comparison of the different reading levels and schemes. But if your child doesn’t want to read (home or school books, or anything), it can be worrying. There are things you can do to help encourage their reading.
In our house we’ve gone through ups and downs with N’s reading. He loves books – bedtime is one of his favourite times to get me to read a book. But I’ve obviously done too good a job because while he’ll happily have stories read to him, it’s hard to get him to read his own books.
Thankfully he will read school reading books – we have had struggles with those as well. I find he goes through phases where occasionally he’ll blitz 2 whole books in one evening, then will argue about reading more than a page on other nights. As for weekends or holidays. Occasionally he’ll read some on the first day of the holidays and finish the book on the last day, but there’s nothing in between.
I do find it noticeable when he’s not read for a while that he goes back to sounding out and blending words he already knows, but that doesn’t translate to him realising it would only take 10 minutes a day to keep the standard up.
With him on target for his reading, and currently working his way through level 8/purple books (our school ready across different book schemes with Oxford Reading Tree as the main focus), I’m always trying new things to help try and get him to focus and do his reading without too many complaints.
Reading tips to encourage children to read
1, Make all sorts of books and other reading material readily available around the house.
2, Read books yourself, so your children see it as normal
3, Make reading part of the day with story time – it’s a great opportunity to talk to your child about what you’re reading and good 121 time.
4, Especially if they’re a boy, get a male to read to them. This doesn’t happen in our house because the OH won’t read, so when my brother comes over at bedtime, I send him up to read to N instead. It’s scientifically proven that boys who have males involved with reading to them or listening to them read, struggle more with reading.
5, Encourage reading of other materials not just books. Signs, menus, board games. We find anything that is providing a solution or a reminder is something that N will want to read.
6, Have a regular time of day to do any school reading. Make it a habitual routine if they’re not keen on reading school books.
7, Have a reward scheme. Yes it’s not the best, but if you have a really clear aim and goal for them to get a sticker, it can work to encourage them.
8, Mix up how you do the set school reading. Maybe they have to do 15 minutes a day. If ‘read a number of pages’ is putting your child off, give them a challenge on how much they can read against a timer (I never use a timer, I just stretch the truth on how much time there is left).
9, Plan in fun activities afterwards, eg no electronics until some reading has been done.
10, Mix up who they’re reading to. N gets really excited when he gets to read to other family members.
11, If they struggle with confidence, don’t correct them as they’re going. Or just repeat the word after they’ve said it without forcing them to say it correctly again. It will sink in through the book.
12, Let them read where is comfortable (for you both). I draw the line at the sofa because the angles aren’t comfortable for me to sit alongside, hold the book and look. But find where works for your child.
13, If they want to read alone when they’re meant to read with an adult for homework, let them. Just ask them to read loud enough for you to hear, and then ask them questions about what they’ve read afterwards so you can be sure they did actually read it. They might find it’s less hassle and quicker to just let you listen with them in the first place.
14, Make up sounds effects for the story as they’re reading it. It can help bring a book to life.
15, Give them the book choice. If they really won’t read a certain book that school have sent home, then ask the school if they can send 2 home so the child has a choice. N hated reading a comic book, and there’ve been a couple of books he’s absolutely refused to read, and the school have switched them. Luckily we get 2 books home at a time.
I also asked some other bloggers for their tips to encourage children to read.
Jodie from Maidenhead Mum said ‘I found that my daughter was getting bored with the supplied books at her level and so they switched her to the non-fiction books instead. She had an amazing one about Space that she loved reading. So my tip would be that if Biff, Chip and Kipper aren’t rocking your child’s boat, chat to their teacher. Reading should be fun and inspiring, it’s not always just about pushing up to the next reading level’.
Becky from Baby Budgeting said ‘My two got so bored of the same characters in each book so I made sure we went to the library regularly to mix it up and keep reading fresh and interesting’
Carol from Virtually Allsorts told me ‘our 8 year old has always been a good reader and clearly gets bored with ‘having’ to read the school’s library books. She’s been moved up a level just this week in fact and I’m glad her teacher saw sense in that. At home, she reads older books than were on her old level at school – Harry Potter and The Worst Witch are current faves. Our children need to be encouraged to read according to their abilities and not held back in order to keep their passion for reading alive.
I’d agree with all of these.
On reading school books, remember the school do have reasons for why they teach reading the way they do. If your child really hates reading, speak to the teacher and see if there’s anything they can help with. Don’t always push to move up too quickly unless your child is enjoying higher level books at home (I know someone who’s daughter could read when she started school and was put as a free reader straight away, but it meant she was choosing books that she could read, but couldn’t understand). Comprehension is still important as well as the reading.
Do your children love to read? What reading tips would you add?
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