Why do we read? We read to learn information, to entertain ourselves, to open our minds, to learn about other people’s journeys, to learn about the world, other cultures, science, history, to progress and function in society….the list is endless.
Reading is a skill and it starts with good habits. We need to instill these habits in children from an early age – we do this by:
Reading to our children from babies starting with little picture books.
Providing books – children need access to books at home. Ask relatives to give books as presents or part of a present for birthdays/Christmas. Source books second-hand or free (see below!)
Use the library – (when restrictions ease!) I initially started buying books when I first had babies but this is simply too expensive to keep up! The library has every book a child will need, make it a regular trip – every 3 weeks is enough!
Limiting screens – most children will choose a screen over a book, you just can’t compete with a screen! Take that choice away and offer book choices instead especially for reading before bed. I don’t allow any devices during the school week, it saves a lot of bad choices!
Model reading – let children see you read too – tell them about what you are reading or what you are interested in, how the book is helping you learn about something.
Follow your child’s interests – if they initially only want to read about fairies, that’s fine!!! Those reading skills are being honed and practised with every book.
To keep their mind open, grab some different types (genres) of books from the library too eg a non-fiction book (fact book). Read it to them here and there.
Keep a collection of books in their bedroom.
Make reading before bed a daily habit no matter what. For pre-readers, read to them. Early readers often still like to be read to. Remember this is a relaxing, enjoyable time, not a reading lesson. So if they want to sit back and listen to the story that is fine.
From 1st class onwards, encourage your child to read to themselves even for just five minutes before bed. They may do this on their own or after listening to the story you read. Establishing the habit is most important here.
Remember: read for fun, enjoyment and keep it positive at all times!