Reading is embedded into education from an early age and crucial to the development of children’s listening, understanding and vocal skills
It also has a major impact on the sociability of children as they grow older, expanding their vocabulary allows them to be confident in speech in and outside the classroom with friends, family and teachers.
The National Literacy Trust introduced the ‘Early Words Together’ programme in 2014 in partnership with 120 children’s centres in the UK targeting children 3-5. The programme resulted in an increase in both vocabulary comprehension and spoken language skills of children. Families involved with the programme experienced higher levels of enjoyment for reading by 77%, proving that active involvement with your child’s reading can have a key impact on their enthusiasm to read. The programme also identified that many parents struggle to find the time to read as amongst the family meaning we must consider different ways to motivate children to read for pleasure.
Similar programmes were rolled out through Primary and Secondary schools to get children and teenagers to see reading as less of an ‘educational’ activity, but more of a hobby, like playing sports or playing video games. The National Literacy Trust reports a steady increase in 2014 of children who enjoy reading outside of class. (You can find more about their annual reading report here.)
That being said, how do we keep the children interested in reading for pleasure as they grow older and there is less pressure from education and parents to do so. How can we get teenagers to choose a book over a video game, or a movie? Here are a few tips.
Read more in our own lives
It is easy to criticise the younger generations for not reading enough in their spare time, but as role models parents must consider what they do in their own free time? Reading the newspaper at breakfast or reading a fantasy novel before bedtime, your children are watching and often taking interest in the things that you do. Seeing mum and dad read regularly shows your children that reading isn’t just something to make school boring, but actually a pleasurable activity.
Understand your child’s interests
After a long day at school, your child has read a chapter in a history and geography textbook, a monologue of Romeo and Juliet, a book of poems etc; it is exhausting, and there is no wonder why some children struggle to separate reading from education to a fun experience.
So play to your child’s interests, if they are interested in sports, get them a football biography for their birthday. If they enjoy fantasy movies, treat them to a fantasy novel. To get our children to have a passion for reading we must not force them into reading what we think is best, but have a better understanding of what they would be interested in reading.
Don’t be afraid of technology
Over the past few years we have seen a large increase in efforts to integrate reading with the technological trends, with schools integrating online reading libraries and Ebooks booming in sales. Although parents have some concerns over the health impacts of reading on brightly lit screens, the recent report shows that children prefer to read using technology and teenagers enjoy flipping through a page on a screen then a paper book hence, technology can be used to restore children’s enjoyment of books. That being said, we should consider a healthy balance of both print and technology-based reading.
These are just a few tips but we would be interested in hearing ways in which you motivate your children to read and the challenges you face!