For some children, a love of reading emerges naturally and with little encouragement from parents. For other children, reading is a challenge from the beginning (for so many different reasons) or just making time to read regularly becomes a battle that a lot of parents dread on a daily basis. There is a large body of research supporting the positive impact of regular reading on vocabulary, reading comprehension, general knowledge and verbal fluency (read this interesting research paper for more info). We know that reading proficiency is an important key to unlocking success at school and in later life so…
How do you encourage your child to get the most out of reading?
Give children a say in what they’re reading! Renown Australian author, Jackie French says:
“When giving kids books, adults think, ‘This is a kid’s book therefore it’s appropriate’, but just as not all adults enjoy every book, kids need the chance to develop their own preferences.” (A. Hennessy ‘Why kids should ditch consoles for books‘, Perth Now).
Support your child in developing their literary preferences and gently guide them in journeying through the many genres available. This way they will really enjoy what they’re reading and it will be easier for them to read regularly. Not sure where to start? Head to your local library and encourage your child to browse the shelves to get a sense of what appeals to them.
Get talking with your child about WHAT they’ve read
I’m not just talking about a simple plot summary here…but more meaningful discussion around the characters, themes and interpretations in the text. By encouraging your child to delve a little deeper in their thinking you are helping them develop key critical thinking skills which really assists their analytical skills now and in future learning. Try asking these questions regarding a chapter, theme or character:
Encourage your child to reflect and journal about what they’ve read
Use the above questions and ask your child to write down a few sentences (younger students) or paragraphs (older students) focusing on analytical thinking. Some children feel more confident in writing down their thoughts about a text rather than having a conversation so get them writing!
Quantity vs quality.
What’s more important here? The number of books read OR the quality of book and time taken to think critically about a text? Over the years we’ve seen many students read text after text almost robotically in haste without pause to think critically about the text. Choosing quality texts for your child’s literacy level (there are some starter lists here and here) and focusing on discussing and responding to the text in written form will greatly benefit your child’s literacy skills and help them to think critically about the world around them.
Until next time, happy reading!