It’s common knowledge that children who enjoy reading and take the time to read outside of school go on to achieve greater academic success than their non reading peers. However, current trends are proving to be unsettling for advocates of extra curricular reading. With libraries across the country under the threat of closure and children increasingly turning to video games for their after school entertainment, it seems that fewer and fewer children are developing strong reading habits. So what can concerned parents do to encourage their children to read outside of school and help arrest this decline in reading levels?
One key thing that parents can do is act as good ‘reading role models’. Experts have suggested that the mere experience of seeing parents reading makes it more likely that young children will want to pick up a book. Parents should also take the time to read with children from a young age, both reading to them and having them read to you. This demonstrates strong parental investment in reading to the child, helping to build early enthusiasm and interest that acts as a foundation for a child’s independent reading.
Another measure that parents can take is to ensure that children have good access to new reading materials. This can take many forms. If you have access to a library nearby, it’s a good idea to give children their own library card and take them on regular trips to the library to borrow new books. Parents can also take steps to make sure that their house is well stocked with books, allowing parents to guide children’s reading through recommendations, while also allowing them to explore their own interests. Kids should also have space for their own books in their rooms, as a personal collection of books enhances feelings of ownership and investment in the reading experience.
But it’s not all about books, of course. Having a daily newspaper lying round the house can be a good way to introduce casual reading into a child’s life, while a well stocked rack of magazines can help kids to explore new interests. Purchasing a magazine subscription for a child can also help to increase the sense of excitement around reading, as children are often thrilled by a new issue coming through the post every month, especially if it has their name on it.
Overall, the key to encouraging children to read outside of school is not to make it feel like a chore or even a punishment. Forcing children to read at specified times of the day is unlikely to help kids enjoy their reading, while denying kids access to other forms of entertainment such as TV and video games will make reading seem punitive. Successful encouragement is all about providing a good example while making sure that kids have ready access to appropriate reading resources. Parents have a vital, guiding role in the early stages of a child’s reading life, so take active steps to nourish it and see your kids benefit from their reading in other areas of their life.