Finding reasons to love reading
Reading contributes to a child’s development in so many ways. It expands their vocabulary and knowledge. It promotes critical thinking, empathy and problem solving. The benefits of reading are so numerous that it’s hard to think of many skills a child can acquire that are as important as reading.
We want them to enjoy reading, so it’s vital that it has positive associations for a child. Perceiving reading as fun, interesting and enjoyable ensures they can get the biggest possible benefit from it. Of course this can be easier said than done for some children. For whatever reason, they could be reluctant to pick up a book out of choice. Here we are going to explore some creative ideas that might just encourage them to view reading in a more positive light.
Is your child a reluctant reader? These fun ideas might help to spark a love for reading that lasts a lifetime.
Reading in a tent by torchlight
Camping outdoors can be a magical experience for kids. Connecting with the sights and sounds of nature can trigger their creativity and imagination and offers a welcome break from screen time.
Finding a cozy spot inside a tent or den and reading by torchlight can bring a real sense of adventure to a book. The unique change in scenery from a bedroom or study helps make the experience feel special and more memorable.
If reading inside a tent isn’t an option, simply reading outside has unique benefits. A calming environment can help them to engage in a story, free from indoor distractions. If setting up a tent sounds like too much trouble, or you don’t have access to outdoor space, you could simply throw a duvet over two chairs to make a cozy indoor den instead.
Listen to an audiobook
Audiobooks offer children an immersive experience enhanced by the performance of professional narrators. Whilst consuming books in this way doesn’t involve the active engagement required by reading, it still offers lots of unique benefits. It’s a convenient way for children who may otherwise struggle with the written word to access books. Getting your child to trace their finger across the words in a book whilst listening along to the audio version can be a helpful activity.
Audiobooks have the potential to act as a catalyst for exploring the written word by simply getting children emotionally invested in stories that they enjoy. Some books are read by a single narrator, but others might feature a cast of different voice actors along with high production values, music and sound effects. Although the experience is somewhat passive, they are at least still consuming the content, which can can trigger their creativity and curiosity.
Audiobooks can also be a great choice when looking for calming activities. When it’s time for kids to wind down and relax they can try listening whilst lying down with their eyes closed, centering their attention on the story.
Of course, audiobooks are perfectly suited to long journeys and road trips too. An engaging story can capture a child’s attention, making an otherwise tedious journey a lot easier to endure.
Make reading a shared experience.
How does reading make you feel? If reading induces positive emotions for a child, they will be more likely to find reasons to love reading.
Reading aloud with a child helps support them with the pronunciation of tricky words. Adults can also assist with explanations and definitions. Reading out loud provides opportunities not only to rehearse vocabulary, but also to play the voices of characters and have some fun with the text. As children grow in confidence, they can turn their story reading into a fun performance.
The emotional connection formed whilst reading in this way with a child can cement positive memories associated with reading together. This can fuel a love of reading.
Create a special story stash
We want children to think of books as precious and special items. One of the ways we can achieve this is by thinking carefully about how we store them.
Whether it’s a special treasure chest, a decorative box or special nook in the corner of their bedroom, having a unique place to store books can serve to highlight their value to us. It also gives children a visual reminder of the stories they’ve already read and a sense of ownership over them.
If books are stored on a shelf, organising it offers lots of opportunities for learning. Books can be sorted alphabetically, by colour, by height, or by category for example. This activity requires a degree of planning and critical thought.
Write your own story
Writing their own stories gives children the chance to express themselves whilst applying a wide range of different skills in context. It can be a wonderfully creative exercise in which they come up with a unique story and articulate it in a way that’s personal to them.
The activity needn’t be limited to the story itself though. They can have fun designing illustrations to accompany certain parts of the story. This will force them to think visually to convey meaning and depict characters or situations based on their descriptions in the story.
Taking it a step further, they can complete the book with a decorative front cover, turning it into something that can make a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member.
Make reading a habit
Even reading for a few minutes each day can have a profound effect on a child’s cognitive development. The cumulative benefits of reading at a set time before bed for example, add up over time. Regularly being exposed to different words, language patterns and sentence structures will enhance their vocabulary and communication skills.
For readers that struggle, the repetition of reading frequently will help them overcome their difficulties and deepen their understanding. The confidence that comes from reading a just little each day fosters confidence, curiosity, and a lifelong love for learning.
Embark on a bookshop adventure
We want children to develop a real love of reading. Being told that they must read can sometimes make it feel like a chore. This is obviously the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve. One way around this is to visit an interesting book shop and let them explore and see which ones they are naturally drawn to.
A good bookstore can be a treasure trove of creativity, imagination and curiosity. Hundreds (or thousands!) of books all with unique stories and tales enticing you to explore further. A bookshop can be a magical environment for children and adults alike. The colourful displays, books of different shapes and sizes, even the distinctive smells – the atmosphere of a bookshop offers a unique sensory experience.
Online stores offer choice but they lack the tactile experience of picking up a weighty book and thumbing through its pages with childlike curiosity.
Explore your local library
Libraries are often so much more than a collection of books. Aside from the obvious benefits of reading, they can act as important community hubs, with some offering activities and events for a range of interests and needs. Children can interact with others their own age and parents can cultivate friendships and find helpful support. These services can include adult education, health and well-being advice, support for people with disabilities and children’s educational activities.
Libraries also offer a peaceful safe environment to contemplate and research away from distractions. Another fantastic benefit of libraries is that many of the services can often be accessed for free!
Plan an itinerary for a special day trip
It might be a trip to the museum, a visit to a new city, or even a day at the beach. These activities can throw up endless avenues for research. You can spend time with a child looking up the best places to eat, train times, finding information about exhibits in a museum, which sites to explore and more. It gives opportunities to practise reading for research which is a skill in itself. It also illustrates the practical ways you might find specific information. Playing an active role in planning the trip can ultimately make it feel more special to them as they have a personal investment in it.
Make a reading wish list
Having a list of books to read next can provide the impetus to finish one story and move on to the next. It creates a sense of anticipation and eagerness for starting their next book. Some children might take things a step further and design a reading schedule of the books on their list. The planning involved in doing this can help them manage their time and enables them to make reading a part of their daily routine.
Read the book, then go see the movie
The way in which you visualise characters and settings in your imagination will always differ from how the story is portrayed on screen. An on-screen adaption is ultimately someone else’s interpretation of a text. There are arguments for reading the story before or after the film. Reading before can serve to highlight the power of imagination. In reading a story, you might have painted an intimate portrait of a characters – how they look, how they talk and the way they move and interact with others. After watching the film a child can then draw comparisons with the book. They will be able to analyse how it aligned with their expectations based on what they read. This can help develop their ability to think critically and process information without bias. A useful skill that can be applied to lots of other educational undertakings.
The other way round, watching a film before reading the book has several benefits, especially for less able readers. They are able to approach a book armed with a familiarity of the plot and characters, making it easier to follow and comprehend the story as a whole.
The benefits of reading
There are so many reasons I love reading. I believe it’s a foundational tool which can empower readers to change their lives for the better. By fostering creativity, knowledge and curiosity, reading books can enrich our lives greatly. By encouraging and supporting children to read from an early age, we equip them with a powerful tool which will serve them for the rest of their lives.