When it comes to encouraging children to read more books, there are a number of strategies and practices that parents and guardians may adopt. From visiting the local library, to setting time aside to read every day, and even using interactive methods or devices, reading can be a great way to bond families together and improve a child’s prospects in life. But what are the best methods to foster a love of books and why is this so important?
Reading goes far beyond simply being a hobby. The OECD (2002) found that ‘reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status’. Therefore, children must be exposed to books and learn to develop a fondness for reading from a young age to be set up for success in later life.
New Research On Children’s Reading Strategies
The latest findings around children’s early-year reading strategies come from Wish I’d Known – an app and resource that uncovers objective insights around parenting topics that have often been subjective.
Upon asking their community of parents what strategies or practices they use to foster a love of books and reading in their child’s life, the findings were particularly focused on child autonomy.
With 73% of parents making age-appropriate books accessible and 76% allowing their children to choose their own books, it seems that by encouraging children to be active participants in the process of reading, they are more likely to enjoy it as a whole.
At the other end of the spectrum, Wish I’d Known discovered that only 20% of parents create a cosy nook or reading space at home with the aim of getting their child more engaged in books. Despite having a dedicated area, this tactic is perhaps less likely to instil a love of reading as it relies on children having access to this space whenever they wish to read. It is also less centred around the action of reading itself but rather engages the child with the space around them.
How Does Doorstep Library Encourage A Love Of Reading?
Interestingly, the findings from Wish I’d Known line up with the measures used at Doorstep Library. As our aim is to instil a love of reading for pleasure, we do not focus on academic achievement to measure the success of our work but rather, on how the children are engaging in the sessions. We therefore look to make our sessions as engaging as possible.
Whether or not children choose their own books is a key marker of their interest in whether they read outside of our sessions and what types of books they are interested in. At Doorstep Library, our reading volunteers take requests for books from children and bring a selection to the sessions based on the child’s interests. We aim for at least 80% of our children to choose the books they borrow each week as this can reflect how engaged and interested in the sessions the child is. It can also show how confident the child feels, and by requesting specific titles, it shows that an enjoyment of reading is developing.
How Can I Encourage Children To Read?
When trying to engage children to read, it seems the best methods are those that allow young readers to participate actively. Whether they choose their own books, take books off the shelf themselves, or engage with interactive elements – the more that a child has a sense of purpose during the activity, the more likely they are to develop a love of it. This will, of course, vary from child to child, but the more you can let your children take the lead during reading, the better.
By dedicating time to reading and giving the child your undivided attention, you can also make them feel valued and enhance the activity. Perhaps you could ask your child questions about the book – what they think might happen, what they enjoyed, or count the number of animals on a page. Questions and funny voices can help to develop children’s imaginations and make them feel valued which is crucial for instilling a love of reading.
“Coming together to read with my children and showing how exciting it can be – has had such a positive influence on their lives” – a Doorstep Library parent