Monday, 3 February 2014

Supporting children’s reading – ideas and tips for parents and carers

First Steps 6-09 021My last blog was on family literacy. This time I’m focusing on how parents and carers can make reading attractive. I love all the reading going on in this family reading workshop I gave.

It’s good to see bedtime reading is on the rise. There’s no better way to help children view reading as worthwhile and fun than reading to them. You don’t have to be a great reader: looking at the pictures together and making up stories spreads a love of books. If reading at bedtime doesn’t work for you, fit it in at a time that does – at bathtime perhaps, or on the bus. If your child demands the same book again and again, it’s a testament to your success. Please go on reading it! You can always read something else as well to save your sanity, or maybe someone else can do the honours sometimes. And do keep reading to your child when they can read, so they know reading and enjoyment go hand in hand.

You’ll find lots of useful tips on the Words for Life website and on this helpful infographic. I totally agree that children should see parents and carers reading for themselves, and I like the emphasis on discussing books, and on borrowing from the library. There are some great ideas here too. As the author stresses, children need to make their own choices of books. Everyone reads better when the book is one they enjoy. Joke books, puzzle books, the Minecraft Annual, the Guinness Book of Records, they are all stepping stones to wider reading.

Reading isn’t just about books of course. I found learning to read difficult. Comics shared with my mother were my pathway into the written word, so I’m a big fan of those, and of magazines. Looking things up in catalogues or the back pages of the paper, following recipes together, checking emails and texts all make reading an everyday experience, and help children feel they can do it.

When your child is reading to you, listen supportively. Give lots of praise and concentrate on what they get right, rather than mistakes. That way they get a sense of achievement. Don’t forget children learn to read in different ways and at different rates. Comparing progress doesn’t help anybody. How lucky for me that my parents didn’t worry that I was a late reader. They read to me, so I always knew books and reading were special, and that’s what mattered.