Some children love reading and some just don’t. The same can be said for adults too. I think of reading like exercise: it’s not that you dislike reading or exercise, it’s just that you haven’t found the right book/activity for you.
Personally I love reading and I hate exercise however I have managed to start going swimming two or three times a week which I quite enjoy and it’s much better than forcing myself to try and go to the gym or to run because I just can’t stand that and I’ll give up quickly. Similarly you don’t want to try to force your child to read a book that they just don’t like. So here are 5 tips that might help…
1. Let them read anything
Comics, football programmes, magazines, even cereal boxes or street signs: anything that they are interested in will help practise their decoding and blending skills (this is where they ‘sound out’ each letter or sound and then put them all together to read the word). Do they love Minecraft? Get them to read something to you from the game or an advert for a toy. Do they have a family member that they love? Get the relative to write a short note to them and send it in the post. Kids love getting post!
2. Read to them
Reading to them is excellent for comprehension which is how well they have understood a story. You can help with this by asking a few questions. The best type of questions to ask are ones where you want their opinion: for example, do you think they’ve made a good decision there? Do you think this character is a good guy? What would you do if you were them?
Most importantly, always ask them, ‘Why?’ Get them to explain their answer to you. What if they won’t or can’t answer? Then you just show them how to: ‘Well, I think he’s probably a bit of a villain because he’s trying to get the other character in trouble,’ etc.
3. Listen to audiobooks
This is much the same as reading to them however without the questions/discussion. It will help get them into the fun of stories. My sister and I used to listen to audiobooks when we were on car journeys. One of our favourites was Ms Wiz - does anyone remember these? I haven’t seen or heard of them since the nineties!
4. Try following a recipe together
This gives reading a real-life purpose. You could also try another type of explanation text that teaches you how to do something your child might like. During the lockdown at school when we were teaching in small bubbles, my class and I really got into origami! One of my boys, who was a particularly reluctant reader, was fantastic at it and he absolutely loved reading the instructions and making all sorts of things. I don’t think his mum was as pleased with the amount of paper he was bringing home each week though!
5. Link it to something they love
Create a little routine where you always have a snack like popcorn or hot chocolate every time you read. You could also try sitting in a place that they like, a special chair or maybe you could make a little den with blankets?
Hopefully some of these ideas will work for you. One bonus tip could be that you watch some TV programmes or films that are based on books first and then have a look at the books afterwards; a lot of the Julia Donaldson stories are on iPlayer, which are great as they are picture books so your child may just be happy to look at the pictures in the book to start with.
Good luck and happy reading!