Tips on inspiring reading for pleasure

A new publication from Egmont, Help Your Child Love Reading by Alison David, aims to support parents in creating a reading environment at home.

Author Alison David, consumer insight director at Egmont, has already developed a number of reports on children's reading habits for Egmont. She said, "During our ongoing research we found that it's almost universally true that parents want their children to read well, or to read more than they are reading, and that many did not know how to go about it. However, among many of them, there was almost the feeling that it was a lost cause, so we decided to publish this book to help families in supporting their children in reading."

David believes that children can be persuaded to read more at any age. However, competing technologies including mobile 'phones, online resources and gaming means that parents need to take a more active role in supporting their child's reading at home.

She explains, "When we were children we didn't have all these entertainments and things to do; we had to cast around for things to do and often that was reading. Today's children have a wide choice of things to do and they have very little 'quiet time' which is exactly what reading needs.

"Parents need to understand that they will not naturally find reading as a leisure pursuit, so parents will need to create that quiet time, to keep involved in their child's reading at all ages, and make sure that bedtime reading keeps going."

The book also emphasises that school-based learning is only part of the answer. "Learning to read is not like learning to ride a bike," David explains. "Once a child is capable of reading, that's only the beginning of their reading journey. Then they need to understand the pleasures of reading which is when what they do at home becomes so important."

In her book, David gives a number of practical suggestions to help encourage children to read more at home, from ensuring books are part of a toddler's play box to keeping bedtime storytelling going even once children have learned to read. The book also charts the benefits of reading for pleasure, both in terms of academic achievement and relationships at home.

While the new national curriculum emphasises the importance of reading for pleasure, many schools acknowledge that it is hard to always find time to share stories. "Just as families at home are frustrated by the lack of time, so are many teachers," David says. "Everything they do in the classroom is measured and tested and many teachers want more time to be able to encourage children to read more. Simple things like storytime are falling by the wayside in so many schools and children are not being exposed to the pleasure of the story."

This is where the partnership between home and schools can be so important, says David. "I see so many families where picture books are part of family life, then the child starts to learn to read at school and that precious story time is dropped at home and replaced by the school reading scheme."

She adds, "Many parents feel really stressed and see reading time with their child as a chore. We need to flip that view so that it's seen as something positive."

Even non-reading teenagers can be persuaded to adopt the habit, David believes. "I never think it's too late to engage someone as a reader; yes it becomes more difficult but you can always play catch-up. The pleasures of reading are massive but don't come quickly or automatically."

The amount of digital entertainment available to young people makes parental involvement in their reading much more important than for previous generations, she adds. "Screen time crosses all their social circles and it's something parents have to be aware of.

"Reading is a wonderful thing but there's not great mystery to it. It's just a habit but like all good habits, it takes time to get into it."

08/09/2014Tips on inspiring reading for pleasure
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