So many parents tell us they struggle to get their child to read. They plough on with a daily routine but find it all a bit disappointing.
First they help choose an appropriate book, next they make sure time is set aside for reading each night, and afterwards they make a note of the page number their child has reached. Occasionally they offer a burst of enthusiasm about a particular book and how fab it is. But this can be a little soul-destroying when greeted with ‘meh’.
This can’t be all there is to reading. There’s got to be something more.
What would you say if all the stress of reading time could just be vanished away? If you could say to your child – ‘Forget reading. You don’t have to do it any more!’
And here’s some even better news. If you take reading completely away from your child, they may just become one of the best readers in their class. And here’s how:
Choose a book yourself for once…
Pick one you love, that you think your child will enjoy. My husband loves reading the David Williams books and I love an evacuee war story. My favourites have included Carrie’s War, Goodnight Mr Tom and The Machine Gunners. The excellent website lovereading4schools is a great place to start for ideas. It is free to sign up and they suggest books by school year group. Each book has the first chapter available to download so you can try before you buy.
Read your book aloud to your child for 15 minutes 3 nights a week
If you can spare 15 minutes at bed time three nights a week then fantastic. If you are co-parenting then your partner should be encouraged to spend a couple of nights a week too. It is important to stick to your own books – don’t read out someone else’s choice. This way you keep track of the story together. Remember we are often following multiple TV dramas throughout a week and don’t find it difficult moving between each one.
Make sure your child can see the words as you read
Audiobooks are great, but the one thing your child misses when they listen is the text itself. And that is the root of all reading. When you read aloud, the text is there in front of you both. Just hold the book in front of your child and their own reading will happen quietly – no singing or dancing is required to get it started.
As you read you self-correct. Don’t worry if you use the wrong voice for a character, or get the intonation wrong, or miss a bit of punctuation. Going back over it will teach your child the rhythm of the sentences. And he or she will see new vocabulary on the page alongside all those everyday spellings they need to use at school.
If a tricky word comes up, throw in a quick explanation or equivalent so that the flow of the story isn’t interrupted.
At the end of a chapter, or in the middle if you’re about to put the book down, have a chat about the characters. Why are they behaving as they are? Are they disguising their feelings? What clues are there to their motivation? All this will build your child’s ability to use inference and deduction and lift their comprehension to the next level.
Be in it for the long-term
Continue with the routine. If bedtime is drifting a bit, pull it back and agree a time together. If you find your child loves Wimpy Kid books or their Liverpool Annual then encourage them to spend a bit of time on that first, before you come in and take over.
As the weeks and months go by you will find your child’s reading will be transformed.