We know that books have the power to transform lives. We know that reading and storytelling helps with development and we know that those who read regularly display greater empathy and better emotional intelligence. It’s a crucial skill for us to pass on to those we raise – but finding the time to do it and helping them find the inclination to read can be tricky. When we do it though, we’re giving them a gift for life. So how do we raise readers? This National Share a Story Month, we’ve pulled together eight of our top tips to help you help your kids love reading.
If you’ve slipped out of the habit of reading on the regular, reacquainting yourself can be a good place to start. Passion is infectious and if you’re excited to read with your children, they’ll start to feel excited about it too. Authors of How to Raise A Reader Pamela Paul and Maria Russo put it really simply – “to raise a reader, be a reader”. Children take their cues from adults and this is true when it comes to reading too. If your kids grow up surrounded by books and stories, they’re likely to be more interested in books and stories.
We aren’t from the school of thought that audiobooks don’t count as reading. Hearing someone read a book confidently and fluently can really help kids understand what reading is all about and get them interested in how to read as confidently and fluently as the narrator. Audible is a great resource for audiobooks, but your local library (we love libraries!) will likely have some available to borrow too.
While reading purists may be afraid of watching films of their favourites, reading a book then watching the movie is a brilliant way to help increase comprehension and pique interest. Pick a classic – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terabithia, The BFG, The Chronicles of Narnia, 101 Dalmatians, Coraline, Harry Potter (honestly, there are so many to choose from) – then host a family movie night when you’ve finished the book. Making the movie night a real event is a great way to motivate reluctant readers to keep going when their interest might be waning.
Curiosity may have killed the cat but it really makes an interested reader. Asking questions about what you’re reading together not only helps to increase their understanding of what’s going on, it makes things more interesting for them. Find out who their favourite character is, ask what they’d do in the same situation, ask them what they think will happen next. Don’t spend so much time fixated on the letters and the sounds that you (both) forget to enjoy the story.