Little and often
Reading can take a lot of energy, as adults we take it for granted but for kids that are learning this new skill it can be exhausting so go at their pace, little and often is key.
Follow their interests
Before choosing or buying a book have a think about what they love. What captures their imagination? What films do they like to watch? What’s their favourite animal? What cartoon characters do they like? What sensory preferences do they have? For example if they love water play a story with water would be great.
Read stories that they connect with, share books and encourage them to explore and read where the motivation is intrinsic because it’s about something they love.
If your child’s passions are a little unique you can create your own stories.
Pair up their interest with the book too, so if your child loves cats, read a book about a cat to a cat.
Cars – read a car book in the car.
Bikes take a bike ride and a picnic and read about a bike ride.
Thomas the tank engine on a train….you get the picture
Make the stories come alive, inspire your child.
Create themes around a book and other fun activities to go with the story.
Reading doesn’t have to be just with their children’s books. It can be recipes while helping in the kitchen, ingredients, choices for activities, shopping lists, tv guides, apps, sign posts, letters, magazines…They will start to see that reading is useful, reading means freedom of choice and knowledge.
Notice where your child goes to relax, where do they naturally chill out? It could be in the garden under a shady tree in the summer with a bean bag, a warm place in the house, a big comfy chair, some love to be cuddled under a duvet in bed. Or lying on the trampoline, maybe beside their favourite pet.
Take their books to them, if they are happy with you being in their space read a little and settle in, appreciate what they love about this chosen place and notice how they use the space.
Some children need physical space to learn and that includes us being a distance from them, I have read books to Iris from another room, knowing she is listening and absorbing the words. Don’t always expect a picture of you beside your child turning pages together. Remember to follow them and take their lead.
Freedom of choice
I like to keep a selection of books in most rooms so where ever we are Iris can take a book of her choice and have a read or just take a look at the pictures. It’s useful for us to notice when their interests shift onto another topic, it allows for new stories and learning and stops the possibility of getting stuck.
Children are naturally curious, if you would like to encourage their interest in a particular subject or book create an enticing display with toys and props to ignite their curiosity in that book.
To learn new words children need a lot of repetition so for this I like to use Iris’s ipad with story book apps that say the word out aloud for her to hear every time she touches the word. Some books highlight the words as they are read out aloud.
I also buy as many books as I can with the unabridged audio book so she can listen to the cd while she reads the book.
It’s there so let’s use it
Interactive Story Book apps are incredible these days!
Films spark an interest in more stories, more books and turn those subtitles on, it all helps.
Find lyrics for their favourite songs (Youtube)
Google Maps, Google Images
Video calling friends and family to encourage conversation
The list goes on and on. Encourage typing, encourage curiosity
Be safe, add parental controls and passwords where needed. Check search engine histories and youtube history for security but also to give you more information about their minds, what do they want to know about?
Create their own stories
This can start with picture stories with photos of what happened that day or on holiday. Add in short sentences and then create stories. Encourage your child to have their own voice, telling a story, this can be drawn, acted, played or danced. It doesn’t have to be written down. Be creative.
They will turn pages before you are ready, skip pages, rip pages, dirty pages, interrupt you, leave the room, come back, leave the room, come back…not have the faintest interest and then 6 months later that one book and them could be best friends. No predicting it I’m afraid, Iris even enjoys a book on horseback! Just go with the flow and no pressure. Add some reading time into each day but that can be in so many different forms that it doesn’t have to feel like a job or something to tick off that list. Reading becomes part of life.