Growing little readers

Kids and books have been inextricably intertwined in my experience of being a parent. Over the years we worked our way up the literary ladder from board books, to picture books, to chapter books. Story time was often a combination of books I remembered and loved from my own childhood, with plenty of new titles thrown in. There were some books I loved and could read hundreds of times over, and others I would literally hide at the very back of the bookcase where there was little chance of them being chosen for our evening ritual.

But as with so many childhood rituals, story time started to change at the chapter book stage as the children started to become increasingly confident readers. The nightly ritual of a chapter before bed was never quite enough and by the next night I would discover they were far ahead of where I had left off. It got to the stage where they actually preferred reading to themselves than being read to.

But last night, in a fit of nostalgia, my son decided he wanted to be read to. He found some of his favourites from years ago and we snuggled up on the beanbag and had a delicious hour of reading aloud. One of the things I loved most was that the books made for great conversation starters. It was a great way to get his perspective on the world as we discussed characters and their actions. It made me realise that although it may not be a regular ritual anymore, reading aloud is something I’m not ready to let go of yet.

On that note, here are some great tips for encouraging older readers

  • Keep reading to them even as they learn to read themselves. Read one chapter a night, no matter how much they beg for more. Get them to recap what has just happened, and predict what they think will happen next. Children often want to read the book independently once you’ve read it to them. They feel secure with knowing they can fill in the tricky bits should they come across them.
  • Don’t be afraid to put rules around what they can or can’t read.
  • Create regular technology-free times. No TV, no Playstation, no iPads, no phones. Books however, are allowed.
  • Make it a habit to visit the library at the beginning of every holiday.
  • Read the books they are reading yourself. Many adolescent fiction books have very mature themes. Discuss these with your children.
  • Suggest books you enjoyed as a child, or books you read now to read. They like that connection with you

Boys often enjoy non-fiction a little more. So magazines, manuals, how-to books are all good books to help supply the perfect excuse to use text. Using Google to forage for information also counts!