You Can Lead a Child to the Library, But You Can’t Make Them Read: How to Cultivate a Positive Attitude to Reading.
I’ll admit it, I was never a child who struggled with reading, I always loved it and I found it as easy as breathing. Even before I could read words I would make up stories verbally or with drawings. I guess literature was in my blood. So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me when I began teaching and I was met with quite a few ‘reluctant readers’. I could totally empathise with those who struggled with maths, but a negative attitude to reading was alien to me. I found over the years that every child is different and we need to respect those differences and nurture them, however, as the curriculum in the UK is built upon a child’s ability to read and write and it is so ingrained into our culture, we have no choice but to at least try and cultivate a positive attitude to reading, as difficult as it may sometimes seem. Here are my top tips for parents and guardians to encourage their children to form a good relationship with reading in all aspects of their life.
1. Make time to read
One of the most effective ways to encourage reading is to make time for it in your daily routine. Bedtime reading is normally the best bet for this, but it can work whenever you have the time to sit down with your child and read. If your child is old enough to read independently, perhaps sit next to them and read your own book. This will not only allow your child to read daily, it also gives you some bonding time and a chance to slow down and chill for a few minutes.
2. Lead by example
Your child looks up to you, therefore if they see you choosing to read in your free time, or engaging with a good book, they will take the hint! Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you have a busy schedule or have your own reasons to not enjoy reading, however, even engaging with literature and talking about books and reading with your child will have a huge impact on the way they engage with reading. It’s the little things that will make a massive difference!
3. Make them accessible
Have books on display, make them easy to reach for. Perhaps set up a little reading nook in your child’s bedroom or install a bookshelf in your sitting room. Even a few books on the coffee table that are picked up and flicked through from time to time will normalise literature for a child and make it a part of their life. By making books more accessible you are demystifying them and piquing your child’s natural curiosity.
4. Book discussion
Talk about books! This is a brilliant way to engage your child and build their comprehensions skills, all without them even knowing! This can be as simple as starting a conversation over dinner about what you are reading, then inviting your child to talk about what they are reading. This will not only improve your child’s literacy, but they will also gain valuable speaking and listening skills.
5. Don’t force it
This is perhaps the most important tip. It probably goes without saying but the more pressure you put on your child to read the more frustrated they will become, feeding the negative viewpoint and steering them further away from literature. The best way to engage a child is to do so discretely and by engaging their interests. A book about a dancing fairy for a budding ballerina? An encyclopaedia of wild animals for the future David Attenborough? Find something they like and coax them in by sharing the book, show them how much fun reading can be!
I hope this helped at least one person to cultivate a positive reading attitude in their household! Of course, this list is not exhaustive and you may find a method that works well for you individually, if you do be sure to share it with us!
Written by: Vicky L
A qualified, enthusiastic and personable primary maths and English teacher! Book your lessons with Vicky here