With this calendar year 2020 already being promoted as the year of perfect vision, it is timely to discuss how we encourage young people to read.
Just as eating is essential to life, so is reading. And so it’s important to realise some kids can be fussy readers, just like they can be fussy eaters. The key is finding the reading format that attracts their attention and inspires their interest.
A story is not a finite means to an end, it is an adventure that opens new doors in a child’s imagination and enables them to go far beyond the initial story and explore a range of new insights, emotions, and facts. Just as food is essential for growing bodies, reading is essential for growing minds.
If your child doesn’t yet feel comfortable reading a book alone, see if you can make it a fun adventure for them by reading the book together, or getting siblings to join in the adventure, too.
It is important to realise there is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way to read a book. Enjoying the experience is the crucial element for the child. Children who are the same age can have quite different attention spans and some might be able to concentrate on a wordy storyline, while others need lots of pictures and some distracting discussions as you read your way through the pages of a book.
When you take your child to a bookshop or library, let them explore the books and take note of what interests them, and why it interests them, and build on that information to develop them into engaged readers. (If you always select the books, then your young reader is reading what YOU want them to read and what interests YOU.)
If books aren’t that popular with your youngster, maybe it is because they are not comfortable with the format—try an e-book, comic book, hard cover, soft-cover, magazine, etc and keep focussed on inspiring the pastime of reading, the format doesn’t matter.
And for some children the pathway into reading is by writing! Let them write their own stories, or make up puzzle word games, or have fun with drawing pictures and then telling a story to explain the picture.
Reading is not a cut and dried activity of a child sitting in a corner quietly reading a book (although some may like to do just that)!
Taking the time to ensure the little people in your life get a great introduction to the pleasures of reading lays the foundation for them having ‘books’ as lifelong companions and helpful advisors.
We try to follow our own advice with our range of children’s books that are pitched at making reading fun, informative, and encouraging young imaginations to grow. Some have word games at the end of the story, some inspire discussions through pictures and words, some introduce history, and one was written and illustrated by a 7 year old!
Happy New Year and Happy Reading in 2020!