Isabell Fisher, co-founder of Little Hands Learning
Reading as a family is a wonderful and easy way to spend time together. It is also good for us. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator for success in life, much more than family circumstances, educational background, or income. Here are 5 ways you can encourage children to fall in love with books and become lifelong readers:
1. It is never too young to start reading with your children.
It is in fact important to start reading to our little ones from a very young age as even the youngest babies will find comfort in hearing your voice as you read a story.
Find time each day to read and make it part of your daily routine. By reading daily to your children you will be starting them on their journey of becoming lifelong readers. However, this doesn’t mean just reading at bedtime or when a reading book is sent home from school. At Little Hands Learning our aim is that children see reading as an enjoyable way to spend their time. So why not try a lazy Sunday morning spent reading in bed?
Just because our older children can read to themselves doesn’t mean that we should stop reading to them. Not only is reading to your older children educationally really beneficial, it is also a great way to spend quality time together.
2. Embrace wordless books.
Being a reader is so much more than being able to read words on a page. Children learn to read images and retell stories, long before they are able to read words on a page. Wordless books are great for children of all ages; they are perfect for older children who need to work on their comprehension and storytelling skills and younger children can focus on the illustrations and retell the story from what they can see. These types of books will boost a child’s confidence as a reader. There are some fantastic wordless picture books out there which are works of art and don’t look too young. For example, Hike by Pete Oswald is a great book to start with.
You and your children are never too old for picture books. There is a perception that picture books are just for younger children but there are so many picture books that are written with older children in mind. Picture books promote reading for pleasure but also are a wonderful way to deal with sensitive and complex topics like mental health, conflict and self-esteem. This is because sharing a picture book with your child will lead to amazing conversations as you both interpret the text and illustrations together.
3. Be an entertainer.
You can do this by using funny voices and changing your tone to suit the story. Furthermore, stories can also be great inspirations for small world play and craft activities. By creating activities linked to the book, the book can come to life and help children deepen their understanding of the story and therefore their love it. If you need some inspiration for book inspired activities visit the Little Hands Learning website where there is a huge bank of easy activity ideas to try with your children that help to bring a whole variety of books to life.
Read in different in settings. Reading shouldn’t just happen on the sofa or in bed. Reading in unusual places to suit the setting in the story is another wonderful way to bring stories to life. If you are reading a book about a gnome that lives in a cave, build a cave in the living room and read the story in there. If you are reading a book which is set in the forest, find a shady spot under a tree to enjoy the book with your children.
4. Be bespoke.
Use their interests when choosing books. If your little one loves trains, dinosaurs or fairies then read stories that feature them. Read high quality books that will enthral your children and expose them to a rich vocabulary. If you struggle to find the time to research high quality books, a book subscription will do the hard work for you.
If your child does not enjoy story books (or even if they do), try reading magazines, comics and non-fiction books. These types of literature are a wonderful way to draw children in with their illustrations, short-form text and facts. Book subscriptions can also help with this by sending different types of books so that you and your children can try something different every month.
5. Be a book fan.
If you treasure books and are excited about reading them, then your children will want to read more. I appreciate this isn’t always possible, but children copy the adults around them. So, if you can sit down and read a book, your children will copy you.
Create excitement around the arrival of a new book, so that your child is desperate to read and get stuck in. Signing up to a book subscription is a great way to create that excitement, as every month a new ‘present’ is delivered by the postman. But if that’s not possible, perhaps make it a monthly treat that you go out to look for a new book together.
Make books visible and accessible. Your child should be able to choose a book whenever they want. A basket of books which sits next to their toys or lowdown shelving containing books will encourage children to help themselves to a book instead of the iPad throughout the day. If you are worried about your child ripping the books, buy material or thick board books. And to be honest, sticky-tape can always fix a ripped page.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Isabell Fisher is co-founder of Little Hands Learning, an educational and eco-friendly subscription box for children aged three to six years. Every month your child will receive an exciting gift in the post containing a beautiful picture book and everything needed for four engaging and fun activities.
The play-based activities are handcrafted and designed by teachers to focus on key areas of the National Curriculum. The curated books together with the activities help nurture healthy minds and encourage early literacy skills, giving children the best start to their education. www.littlehandslearning.co.uk