Learning to read can be a tricky business. Each morning S sits and reads her school reading book to me. Some days she manages the whole book; other days she barely manages one page without giving up. Some days I barely manage one page before I want to scream in frustration at the most ridiculous storylines that just make me want to bang my head against the wall!
The thing is, no matter how rubbish the storyline or how little the child feels like reading their book, they won’t improve (and therefore get a reading book with a better storyline) if they don’t keep practicing. But oh, is it ever hard to try and make a child read a book you can’t stand and they don’t want to read!
So here are some ways to encourage your child to keep up their reading when those ridiculous Biff, Chip and Kipper books get to be too much to bear…
- Have plenty of books and other reading materials around the house. If Biff, Chip and Kipper (and that annoyingly stupid dog) are the only stories available, you’re both going to have a hard time. Our house is about 80% books so if I want S to read and she doesn’t fancy her school reading book, we can choose another. Similarly, it’s worth making regular library trips a part of your regular routine, and allowing your child the freedom to wander around and look at whichever books they like the look of.
- Be seen reading yourself. Books are a big part of our lives; S has lots in her room, but I also have lots in mine. She will often see me reading books or my Kindle either in bed or in the living room. When she was a baby she would often ask to take one of my books to bed with her, presumably as comfort since she associated them so much with me.
- Remember you don’t only have to read books! Have a go with menus when you’re out, street signs, house names, shops, literally anything with words. Don’t make it into a big deal; sometimes it works better when you ask them to “help” you by reading something for you.
- Read bedtime stories. You might think that reading to a child defeats the object of trying to get them to read for themself but it’s about building up a familiarity with the written word, and even an enjoyment of stories. If you regularly read them stories they are interested in, they will naturally want to be able to get that enjoyment for themselves by reading their own stories. I’ve a friend whose daughter loves a particular series of books which my friend cannot stand – so they agree that my friend will read her daughter one story, and then the daughter reads the ones her mother doesn’t like by herself!
- Don’t banish tech. Long gone are the days when we needed a book in order to learn to read. E-readers are incredibly popular, or you can get something like the Kindle app for your mobile or tablet. This has features like the ability to change the font and point size, and will even find a dictionary definition of a word for you if you get stuck. All of this can help to make reading more easy and accessible for someone who is struggling with it.
This post is in collaboration with Rossall private school.