Tuesday, 22 February 2011

9 Top Tips To Encourage Your Child To Read

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This is a guest post by Pam Baggot who will also be contributing blog posts to Amethyst over the coming months. Pam trained as a Teaching Assistant over 12 years ago, and has worked in schools in both the UK and Australia. Pam has worked with children from pre-school right through to secondary school - up to age 16.

Pam, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in reading?

I love reading and probably caught the bug from my Dad. He always seemed to have a book ‘on the go’. I was able to combine this pleasurable pastime with work, finding myself a job in the local library.

When my own children had started school, I re-trained as a Teaching assistant and now work with children who have learning difficulties and are in mainstream education.

Working in schools, I have often heard children say that they don’t enjoy reading or that they very rarely pick up a book. How sad! I once heard someone say ‘if you can’t learn to read then you can’t read to learn’ and I passionately believe that reading is an essential life skill as well as a pleasurable pastime.

How can we encourage children to read?

Being a mum of two (now grown up) children, I made a point of surrounding them with a wide range of reading materials, in the hope that they too would ‘catch the reading bug’. I endeavoured to make reading fun!

Image by ulle.b (flickr)
Here are 6 of my top tips.
·        Give babies plastic or fabric books (safe to use and easy to clean).

·        Introduce pre-school children to books with colourful illustrations and writing in large font. Touchy feely and pop-up books are often firm favourites.

·        School age children will enjoy choosing (with some guidance) some of their own books to read. Also support home/school reading schemes provided by your child's class teacher. Reading schemes can vary from school to school and will of course be age and/or ability related. Popular schemes include, for instance Wellington Square and Wolf Hill but to name a few.

·        Join the local library and take advantage of a wide variety of reading materials.

·        Relieve boring car journeys by playing games, reading road signs and high street bill boards.

·        Make your shared reading time a positive experience. Be patient and encourage your child's efforts with positive comments.

Older children can be more reluctant to read. What other 
strategies might help?

In my experience as children get older, there is often a lack of interest and reluctance to read for pleasure.

Here are 3 more top tips.

·        Think about the things they enjoy. For example a favourite sport or musical interest. They’re more likely to engage with reading materials (for example magazines) which are topical.

·        Look out for short reads – plenty of illustrations and not a lot of words on the page.

·        Alternatively with young people being confident and at home with technology, downloading an ebook might encourage the reluctant reader and there’s lots of choice out there, for example, Amazon's young adult ebookshttp://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=amethyst0f-21&l=ur2&o=2

What are your experiences of children and young people and their reluctance to read? What strategies have worked for you? 

Why not post your thoughts in the comments box below.

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