Kids under 7? Here’s how to keep up their love of reading
During these uncertain times we believe it is absolutely vital that children continue to have access to brilliant book-based resources and that we do everything within our power to continue to spread the magic of reading to children everywhere.
We do appreciate however that not every child finds reading a fun and engaging activity. At Coram Beanstalk we want every child to be able to read in a fun and confident manner. But we know that engaging reluctant and struggling readers is tricky. Being able to ‘read’ and getting meaning and enjoyment from reading doesn’t always go hand in hand.
Children who have positive experiences with books are more resilient in their efforts to understand what they are reading. So here are some helpful tips to make your book-time together fun and enjoyable for both adults and children.
1. Read aloud and start conversations
Reading aloud to a child of any age can give them access to a wider range of texts and broadens their reading experience, exposes them to less familiar words and phrases in context. It lets them hear how to say new words correctly, draws out things that go unnoticed when we read inside our head and whets their appetite for what reading could be to them.
Picture books are also a great way to prompt conversation when reading together. Illustrations, images and graphical elements provide a useful visual ‘scaffold’ for the text for struggling readers and add to the richness and variety of the reading experience for reluctant ones!
2. Mix up the reading experience
We all know the feeling of being asked to read the same books over and over! It’s important to go with the child’s choice, but there are ways we can make the reading experience different each time.
3. Let the child take some responsibility
Let them handle the book, turn the pages, ‘read’ the story to you, test you about what happens. Let them turn the book away from you, choose a page and you have to guess which one they’re looking at.
4. Dive deeper into the book
Really look at the pictures – not just the obvious ones. Use adjectives to extend the child’s exposure to language e.g. ‘Bella’s bed looks warm and cosy’ and remember to re-use the words in future. Don’t be afraid to use trickier words especially when reading a book that is familiar – you can put them into context – ‘Look, Bella’s so tired, she’s exhausted’.
They should eventually move on to a new favourite book and you are allowed to feel relieved. However, you must keep in mind that a child’s perception of reading is very easily influenced by the attitude of the adults in their lives. It isn’t helpful to suggest that you are fed up with a book or that it has been read too many times. Every experience with a book should be a positive and enjoyable one.
5. Play games with books
Playing book-based games with children of all ages helps them to delve deeper into a text in a really fun way. Here some ideas to try at home:
6. Two Truths and a Lie
Pick two facts from the book you are reading and make up a third… can your opponent guess which one is a lie?
7. Yes/No Game
Ask your opponent questions about the book – can they answer without saying yes or no? Who can last the longest?!
8. Picture this!
We know that pictures, photos and illustrations add depth to a text for everyone, not just younger children. Explore a picture together first, give your opponent 20 seconds to study it (an egg timer works well here!) then ask some questions… How many books were on the shelf? Was the character wearing a watch? How many limbs were in the picture?
Swap after five questions – who was the most observant?!
9. Find free book-based resources
Some of the UK’s leading children’s reading organisations including Coram Beanstalk, BookTrust, Scottish BookTrust and Authorfy, along with much loved authors and illustrators, have all joined forces and pledged their support to share reading tips, tricks, activities, videos and ideas to provide family entertainment at home. New content will be pushed out every week for children from pre-school age all the way up to year 7 or 8.
Search on social media using the hashtag #UnitedByBooks to find lots of free brilliant book-based resources.