Encouraging children to read – a step by step guide – part 1

Many parents I talk to ask, “How can I really get my child reading?” Sometimes they say things like “I absolutely love Michael Morpurgo’s books. I can’t work out why he doesn’t want to read them”.

OK, so getting your child reading may be a slow process, but it will definitely be worth the wait.Hopefully we can give you a few guidelines. Encouraging a love of reading in your child is one of the most wonderful gifts a parent can give to their child. Sure it’s very annoying when George in your child’s class has read “All 7 books in the Harry Potter series” as his mother announces to the teacher in a stage whisper (hoping everyone will hear) and your child is still struggling to move on from Horrid Henry. But if you rush it and suggest they read books that are too difficult, you’ll be more likely to put them off altogether.

So here are the first three steps in my action plan for getting your child reading

  1. Let your child see how much fun books can be-if you can, read to them at night. This can be as much fun for you as for them, especially if you put on all the different voices (don’t worry-hopefully, no-one is listening).If the word “book” only means something they struggle through at school, clearly you are less likely to help them to become a book lover.
  2. Choose books that are at the right reading level for your child. This is crucial. If they can easily read the book, they are much more likely to engage with it.We are just introducing a new system at Hummingbird Books where every book will be categorised with a reading level. This is similar to the old system of reading age, which was essentially how complex the vocabulary was, but it takes into consideration lots of other factors as well such as font size, number of words on a page, number of pictures.
  3. Always check the font size in particular. When I am helping children to choose books in school I always open the book after we have looked at the front cover and read the synopsis on the back and before asking the child to read a bit of the book, I ask them if they think the book might suit them. At this point they often say “No, the writing is too small”. So we go back to the drawing board to look for a book with writing of the “right size”.

In tomorrow’s blog we will look at the other factors that affect a child’s enjoyment of books and reading.

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2 Responses to “Encouraging children to read – a step by step guide – part 1”

  1. Littlesheep (@Littlesheep) Says:

    Point three is a big thing with my eldest – he says he can’t read if he perceived there are too many words on the page and the font size is small when it isn’t his reading ability that is the problem it is stamina – we are working on it by taking turns to read pages in longer books.

  2. childrensbooklady Says:

    I think taking it gradually is definitely the way forward. Allowing them to read one level of book for as long as they want. My belief is always to be led by them – they will soon tell you when the books are too easy and it doesn’t hurt to keep practising their reading at one level for a fair old time before moving on to the next level.

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