It’s no secret that books help our brains stay active, enrich our education and provide mindful escapism from life’s stresses. However, no matter how much we appreciate literature ourselves, it’s not always easy to encourage our children to read.
Numerous studies have found that children who read independently become better readers, score higher on school tests and have greater general knowledge than those who don't. However, putting pressure on your child to take up the habit can have the reverse effect. With this in mind, here are four tips to inspire a life-long love of reading in your child.
Listening to audiobooks still counts as reading, and it can be more appealing to some children than sitting down with a paperback. Subscribe to a service like Audible or BookBeat and invite your children to choose one audiobook per week to listen to after school or at bedtime.
Some children view reading as schoolwork rather than a leisure activity, so help them make the distinction by not forcing strictly educational audio. As long as they're listening to age-appropriate materials, a book is a book, and anything that helps get your child into reading should be encouraged.
Organise Book-Based Activities
You can help incorporate books into other fun activities by hosting a reading club or book party for your children’s friends. Encourage your kids to help you make themed invites based on their favourite book using a free printable invitation maker. You could also ask guests to come in fancy dress to make it even more fun.
Another way to bring stories to life is by reading a book with your child, then watching the film together. If you start with something like the Harry Potter series, you could take your child to some of the film’s settings around the country, too.
Lead by Example
If you can’t find the time to read, your children are unlikely to develop a love of books themselves. Show your kids that reading is something you do to relax and unwind, and they will pick up cues from you. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy a ten-minute read together before bedtime each night, or save it all for pyjama-clad hours on Sunday mornings. Develop a home reading routine that works for your family, talk to them about what you’re reading and help them discover the magic of storytelling.
Don’t Force It
If you try to force reading on your children, they’ll think of it as another form of “work” and decide they’d rather be doing something else. Older kids may rebel against your wishes if you start instilling reading rules, so try to keep it casual. Surround your children with books and make novels and stories a part of your family home, and sooner or later they will catch on. Pressuring your kids into reading will overshadow the joy of it, so understand there will be times where they are more interested in other activities, especially as they get older.
You might be desperate for your child to inherit your love of reading, but you shouldn’t force it. Read to your kids, make the stories come alive through book-based activities and audiobooks, and they will soon learn the magic and escapism that stories can offer.