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Reading with your child

Why is reading so important?
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
What difference could I make as a parent?
The short answer is: a lot! Parents are by far the most important educators in a child’s life and it’s never too young for a child to start, even if you’re only reading with your child for a few minutes a day.
Building vocabulary and understanding
Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out print. Through hearing stories, children are exposed to a rich and wide vocabulary. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work as well. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard. As children start to learn to read at school, you can play an important role in helping to keep them interested in books, finding out what interests them and helping them to find books that will be engaging and fun for them. Give time to helping them practise reading the books they will bring home from school.
Top 10 tips to help children enjoy reading
To help make reading enjoyable and fun, experts and authors say what they recommend to help get children reading.
1. Make books part of your family life – Always have books around so that you and your children are ready to read whenever there’s a chance.
2. Join your local library – Get your child a library card. You’ll find the latest videogames, blu-rays and DVDs, plus tons and tons of fantastic books. Allow them to pick their own books, encouraging their own interests.
3. Match their interests – Help them find the right book - it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, poetry, comic books or non-fiction.
4. All reading is good – Don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets. Reading is reading and it is all good.
5. Get comfortable! – Snuggle up somewhere warm and cosy with your child, either in bed, on a beanbag or on the sofa, or make sure they have somewhere comfy when reading alone.
6. Ask questions – To keep them interested in the story, ask your child questions as you read such as, ‘What do you think will happen next?’ or ‘Where did we get to last night? Can you remember what had happened already?’
7. Read whenever you get the chance – Bring along a book or magazine for any time your child has to wait, such as at a doctor’s surgery.
8. Read again and again – Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. Re-reading helps to build up fluency and confidence.
9. Bedtime stories – Regularly read with your child or children at bedtime. It’s a great way to end the day and to spend valuable time with your child.
10. Rhyme and repetition – Books and poems which include rhyme and repetion
List of author pages:
Quentin Blake:
Tony Bradman:
Eric Carle:
Roald Dahl:
Julia Donaldson:
Christopher Edge:
Michaela Morgan: Bali Rai:
Michael Rosen:
What if children just don’t enjoy reading? What do I do if my child doesn’t enjoy reading?
• Make sure your child isn’t tired, hungry or desperate to watch their favourite TV programme when you read to them. Sit with them for a short time every day and read a book with them on a subject that interests them, whether that’s cars, animals or sports. Don’t expect them to read it for themselves. Just show them how interesting it is to be able to read so that they want to do it for themselves.
• For many children, especially boys as they get older, non-fiction books are more interesting than fiction, so it may be as simple as changing the type of books you are reading together. Talk to your teacher or a local children’s librarian to see what books are available that match your child’s interests.
• Give plenty of praise. Let your child know how pleased you are when he or she looks at a book. Show interest in what they have chosen. Children really do develop at their own rates when it comes to reading.
My son is switching off reading - what can I do?
Research shows that boys are less likely to enjoy reading than girls. More boys than girls struggle with reading and writing at school and boys are more likely to say they don’t spend any time reading outside the classroom. But there are ways you can help:
• It’s important to make sure that you’re reading something with your son which interests him. Many boys like non-fiction books, so try asking at your local library for recommendations – it may be that he’ll enjoy reading Horrible Histories or the Guinness Book of Records more than fiction.
• Role models are also important. Make sure boys see their dads, uncles or granddads reading, even if it’s a newspaper, so that it seems familiar and they can copy their reading behaviour.
• Finally, praise your son when something is read well. Equally, if he reads something incorrectly, don’t make him feel that this is bad - mistakes are just part of the learning process. If you think your child is having problems reading, the first step is always to speak to your child’s teacher and share your concerns. Many children learn at different rates, and you shouldn’t get anxious. Remember that anxious children can’t learn, and that early enjoyment of books and stories lasts for life.