Reading with your kids can be so much fun and a great time to bond…. but it can also feel like a daily chore, especially when your kids aren’t enthusiastic about it! These simple tips will show you how to make reading with your kids loads of fun, while also ensuring it’s both educational and effective.
There are a lot of reading stats that show us the importance of reading to kids, but how can you make the most of reading with your kids?
1. LET YOUR CHILD LEAD THE WAY
To make reading with your kids fun, you will need to park your own agenda!
This sounds simple, but often we want our kids to read books that we see as ‘good for them’, or that we loved when we were growing up.
But the world of children’s literature is fast-moving and exciting. Let your child lead the way in choosing their books. As long as the book isn’t something you have an actual problem with, let them pick what they are drawn to.
Also let your child lead the way in other decisions- where they read and when they read.
Giving your child this control will help to grow their enthusiasm and motivation for reading.
Giving your child power to make these choices will help them to develop ownership over their own reading. This is what will give your child a love of reading, and make them a lifelong reader.
The best learning happens when your child is engaged. So, giving choices about reading will help to make reading with your kids both educational and fun.
2. FLICK THROUGH FIRST
Although I just talked about giving your child more control over reading, it is still important to be involved as a parent.
Let your child know that you are interested, and ask to have a look through the books they are reading. This is more important the younger your child is.
You can look out for:
- New and interesting vocabulary that you can use (and repeat in a natural way) when reading with them.
- Opportunities for interesting conversations that the book could draw out.
- New concepts that you might need to explain or help your child to understand.
- How you can use the story to develop your child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- How you can develop your child’s emotional vocabulary and social skills through what the characters are thinking and feeling, and how they interact with each other.
Prepare yourself by being familiar with the book before you read it together. This will help to make reading with your kids very educational as you can make the most of the learning opportunities in the book.
3. TAKE AWAY THE PRESSURE
It’s easy to make reading with your kids a ‘job’ for the day. You might approach it from an educational perspective- you want your child’s reading skills to develop.
That’s great, but a love of reading is more important!
Why? If you can foster a love of reading for your child, they will choose to read rather than being forced to. This means they will be creating opportunities for themselves to practice the skill of reading without you having to have to force anything!
We have to be careful that reading doesn’t become a test for kids. This can cause anxiety and massively reduce the enjoyment your kids find in reading.
However, when your child doesn’t feel tested, and learns to love to read, they will get better and better naturally. They won’t be anxious or worried about reading, or scared of failing. Instead, they’ll find joy in improving.
Taking away the pressure is the most important step in creating a love of reading for your child.
Don’t ask lots of questions when reading. Start by chatting about the pictures, and what happens in the story. Don’t focus on the words so much initially if this is still difficult for your child. Instead, enjoy the book together first, then have a look at the words together.
Use positive talk when talking about reading- praise your child’s persistence in reading. For example, you could use, “It was amazing how you didn’t give up reading the book until you finished it!”
4. RELATE IT TO REAL LIFE
One of the most important things about reading is that it helps us to understand the world, and to understand other people in a deeper way.
This is true for adults, and is absolutely true for kids.
Books for children tackle this issues in an age-appropriate way. It exposes kids to new situations and contexts that they may not have encountered yet, but will need understand.
This might be really practical. Maybe you don’t live in a place where there are lots of buses, or it’s not part of your child’s world. Reading provides a brilliant platform for kids to learn about things that they have not yet experienced for themselves. In a way, reading broadens their world.
It also broadens their social world. Reading with your kids gives a way for you to discuss social ideas such as sharing, anxiety, peer pressure, bullying, or even just happiness and sadness.
The story will help your child to understand these issues in a new way, and this is doubled when you spend time reading with your kids, as you can use the book as a springboard for fantastic conversations. It doesn’t have to be a heavy conversation, but just a few light-touch words can have a big impact.
5. EXTEND THE LEARNING FROM READING
One of the best ways to make reading fun and educational is to extend the learning beyond the book.
Think of what the learning has been in the book- was it a new and interesting topic (e.g. space, bugs)? Was it some new vocab that they didn’t know before? It could be anything!
Think of new activities that would link into the learning from reading, and take the education even further for your kids. This is also a lot of fun!
It might be that after reading a book about bugs, you go on a nature walk. Or, after a book about a cake, you bake one together. It might be that you start a craft project, a scrapbook, or even a science project about the topic.
You can easily adjust this to the level of your child. Again, let your child lead the way in this, but guide and suggest new ideas to extend their thinking and their learning.
And That’s It!
Reading with your kids has so many unexpected and incredibly worthwhile benefits. Even if they’re not naturally interested in books, I believe that it’s worth pursuing.
Give your child choice and ownership in reading, help them child to feel confident in persist in reading even when it’s hard, and to see the joy in reading without the pressure. This will help to make them a lifelong reader!
Most of all, enjoy this time together without an agenda! This will have a knock on impact on your child’s enjoyment of reading.
Thanks for reading! I hope this gives you confidence to pursue reading with your kids.
Leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear how it goes!
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