Significantly less children are reading for pleasure; The National Literacy Trust has found. In 2019, just over half of 8 to 18 year-olds said that they read for fun, and only a quarter of young people read daily. It can be difficult to encourage your child to read when seemingly everyone around them isn’t doing it- some kids love it, whereas others feel like they can’t get much out of it at all. We know how important engaging reading from a young age is, so we’ve put together a list of 7 easy ways for you to help your child find the fun in reading.
1. Make books readily available
Framing reading as a choice rather than a chore will be an important start to encourage reading for fun. Being surrounded by reading materials gives young people the choice to pick up a book at their will. Making sure you have books in your home, in their bedrooms, scattered around on coffee tables, sides or even in the bathroom will encourage your children to see reading as a key part of their environment. A recent study found that having books in the family home can positively impact a young person’s abilities in school, along with future job prospects- time to display the exciting, enticing book covers as soon as possible!
2. Find out your child’s interests
Your children won’t want to read books that they have no interest in, so finding out their favourite genres; for example, fantasy, sci-fi, adventure etc. can encourage them to pick up a book if they have the basic curiosity there already. Fiction or non-fiction could be favoured, and if they watch certain TV programmes do these relate to a preferred genre? Maybe your child’s favourite film was originally a book – this could be a starting point by reading a story they are familiar with. If your child enjoys watching certain YouTubers, a lot of ‘vloggers’ are publishing their own books now, too. This can be a great source of reading material as they are already heavily invested in the person writing it.
3. Make plenty of time for reading
We are creatures of habit, so setting aside a specific time for your children to read can encourage them to create a healthy attitude towards it. It’s important to not make reading feel like a burden, so if your child struggles to read or really doesn’t enjoy reading, try to have a conversation with them about why. Talking to their teacher to get some information about their reading level and what type of books your child could and should be reading will also help. This should be a fun leisure activity for them- if you’re rushing story time or don’t care much for it, they will pick up this attitude and may mimic it.
4. Read to them and read together
Younger children typically love story time, so if you must read The Tiger Who Came to Tea for the 6th time this week you may just have to grin through it! BookTrust found that ‘90% of foster carers who read with their child reported that it had made a positive difference to the relationship between them and their child.’ Making sure to include your young children in day to day chores and creating a game can encourage them to read themselves. Asking kids to read aloud traffic signs, recipes or even words on packaging can help them to familiarise themselves from a young age.
5. Set the scene
Making reading fun can be affected by something as simple as your surroundings. When you read stories to your smaller children, think of the theme of the book or even the time of year/season you’re in. If it’s a spooky book, read with them in the dark with a torch or if it’s a story like The Gruffalo, why not take a trip to your local woods with a blanket and lunch? Being inventive with the ways you interact with books and turning stories into experiences can pique an interest in reading early on.
6. Use screen swipers and page turners
Older children and teens will likely be taking their phone with them wherever they go, and we’ve all seen the advice about bright screens before sleeping; even younger children now use tablets more regularly. Encouraging your child to have a dedicated hour of reading before bed can help them get better sleep and allow for plenty of time to get invested in their books. Technology can often be demonised – but eReaders are a great piece of kit for older children who are reluctant to read, and experts say that they don’t physically change or damage young people’s eyesight.
7. It doesn’t have to be just books
Books can often be daunting for a child that hasn’t started reading for pleasure yet. Magazines, graphic novels, or even newspapers may tempt a reluctant reader to pick up a copy and get invested. Their vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking can all be improved via the different avenues of reading. Listening to audiobooks together in the car or around the home can be a fun way to spark inspiration for young people to read themselves. You could try starting a book series and encourage older children to read the sequels themselves if they are invested in the stories!
With the right mindset and allowing young people to have the choice of materials, they should be reading for pleasure in no time. Let’s get them saying ‘I saw the film, but the book was way better!’ See below for some resources for young people, as well as parents and carers.
- CBeebies: storytelling app for
- Epic: digital library for children 12 and under
- MeBooks: interactive storytelling app
- British Council Magazine: blog posts written by young people in the UK
- The Literacy Trust: resources for secondary school pupils
- BookRiot: book reviews, recommendations and articles for young people
Parents and Carers:
- Action for Children: Storytelling and reading guide for foster carers
- BookTrust: tips, news and all things literature- getting families reading
- CoramBAAF: books for advice about fostering and books for young children in care
If you would like information about supporting looked after children, please get in touch with us, our team of specialists are on hand to answer any questions you may have.