My top ten tips for encouraging your child to read for pleasure:

  1. Lead by example. If you read for pleasure, your child is more likely to read for pleasure. Children learn by emulating what adults do.
  2. Make sure your children are exposed to books in your home. If you can’t afford to buy your own, visit your library regularly. Children are allowed to take up to twenty books at a time from the library.
  3. Teach them to browse by taking them to book shops and libraries. Show them how to look for different books on different topics. Expand their horizons.
  4. At the library, let them take out whatever they want to read. If it is too old for them they will soon give up on it.  If you’re worried that all the things they are choosing are not going to please them, take some out yourself.  Tell them you want to read what you have picked, but maybe they’d like to sit with you and share your story.  If they like it they will soon take it from you and read/look at it themselves.  If it is too young for them don’t discourage them by not letting them take the book, just suggest, or put in other titles which may be more enjoyable for them.
  5. Talk to them about books you enjoy and books you enjoyed when you were little. Help them to understand that reading is a life long journey and a pleasure.
  6. Take them to poetry readings, plays and story time/spoken word events at your local library/theatre/bookshop.  Let them see the correlation between what they read and how those words can come to life.
  7. If they have a favourite film/programme, use books that explore those characters to hook their interest, and then lead them to different things.
  8. Let them read to you, and be interested in what they are reading. If they are reading something funny to you, then laugh. If they read something you think they don’t understand, ask them to explain it to you. If you think this will embarrass them, tell them you don’t understand that part of the story and ask them to help you. If they don’t know, then use it as an opportunity to build knowledge together.  Lower the gap between you so that they feel they are achieving something. They are entertaining and educating you. If they feel that they are giving you pleasure, they will want to read more.
  9. Read to them. Read to them regularly, and read them things that they wouldn’t read themselves so that you can extend their vocabulary and their interests and open their eyes to things they wouldn’t normally try.
  10. Draw parallels between what you are reading and real life. Connect the written word to their reality so that they understand that words are an extension of their every day experiences, but that they can also enrich those experiences immeasurably.