• Nicola Stewart

What can we do to support and inspire our children to read?

We all love a good story don't we?

But it may be that stories are also good for our health - or at least that they can help our chances in life. There is now evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.


But what do you do if your child isn’t making progress or just doesn’t really enjoy reading? Firstly, remember that we all learn in different ways and at different paces. It can take much longer for some children than others - and that is not necessarily connected with their intelligence or abilities in other areas. Our daughter Poppy initially found reading difficult but when she ‘got it’, she was off - it was a bit like when she learned to ride a bike - but our son Spike, now 11, has only recently started to read on his own. He struggled to grasp the links between the sounds he heard and the letters and words on the page, and the more he was pushed, the more reluctant he became to pick up a book and read or do activities that involved reading. But, like his sister, he has always really loved stories. He still generally prefers to be read to or to read with someone, but his reading has come on leaps and bounds.

Here are some top tips and tricks that I found useful:

- Read aloud to your child - listening engages the imagination in a way that watching does not. It’s also a huge source of comfort, will help to develop a broader vocabulary and can encourage discussions and stopping on a cliff hanger might tempt them to pick up the book. - Read aloud with your child. We found it most useful to take turns reading one page (or even one paragraph). This keeps them engaged as they don’t have to do too much or wait too long until it's your turn again. - Listen to audio books with your child or put one on for them whilst you do something else. Audio books can be an amazing source of entertainment, education and distraction. In many ways , they are much better than putting a child in front of a film, TV programme or computer game. Your local library should have a free audio book app called RBdigital or you might be able to apply to use the audiobooks available at the UK charity Listening Books. - Read comics and graphic novels with children who are struggling with words - pictures bring the characters and reading to life. They are a good gateway into ordinary books. You’ll find some amazing eBook comics to download on RBDigital. We reward Spike's reading with a subscription to The Phoenix www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk

And during Covid school closures Oxford Owl are offering free e-books for children aged 3 - 11 years. - Check out ‘Toe by Toe’ by Keda Cowling, a Yorkshire teacher who loved reading and wrote the book to help those children who found it challenging - particular those who have dyslexia. Progress through Toe by Toe is slow but success is visible - I reckon we did 10 mins or less a day and it took us about 2 years to compete. - Keep your child inspired - "...the brain is like a muscle, and if you don't exercise it by reading and doing creative stuff, it'll get weak and mushy." Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Tell them your own stories or those of your family. Read books that you loved with them. - When the current corona virus situation allows, go to bookshops and libraries - they are great places. Allow your chid to roam about and find what catches their imagination. Spike went straight for Tintin and those graphic novels have proved a great stepping stone for him. Do you have a story or experience that you would like to share with us? Which authors have inspired your children? We would love to hear from you! TELL ME MORE... RESOURCES RBDigital - https://rbdigital.com Listening Books Charity - https://www.listening-books.org.uk www.booktime.org.uk - provide free book packs for every child aged 4-5 in England and Wales Toe by Toe - https://www.kedapublications.co.uk/toe-by-toe-defined/ The Phoenix - www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Oxford Owl - https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/find-a-book/library-page/

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