10 things to do to help reading at home
Most of us interested in children and their education are used to using books to help with their learning, whether it’s Oxford Reading Tree books to help with reading or CGP books for workbooks and practice papers.
What is harder to encourage, is that elusive ‘reading for pleasure’. And it is really when children read for the sheer enjoyment, that they benefit from the other elements such as increased empathy, improved wellbeing and lower levels of stress and anxiety. At Toppsta we have over 35,000 book reviews, mainly written by children but we frequently get queries from concerned parents whose children have not yet discovered the joys of reading, so I thought I’d share some of the things we recommend.
- Reading aloud
With busy lives, it’s all too easy to stop reading to your children once they are able to read independently. But reading aloud to your children, whatever their age, has multiple benefits not least because it allows your child to just relax and enjoy the story. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, many of our parents enjoy reading David Walliams books to their children.
- Let them have free choice of books
With the best intentions, as adults we sometimes try and steer our children to a particular author or ‘type’ of book that we’ve enjoyed. Our Roald Dahl books list is one of our most popular pages but often, the books of our childhood are of little interest to children today. Take them to the library or a bookshop and let them browse.
- From screen to paper
It may sound counter intuitive but if your child prefers spending time on a screen, they may be more interested in books to help their game playing. We have handy lists for Minecraft books but also a Pokemon Encyclopedia and Game On, the Ali-A book.
- Listen to audiobooks
Long car journeys or even bedtime can be a difficult time for many families. Check out our list of children’s audio books, a great way to help them relax and pass the time.
- Start them on a series
Children LOVE series and as a parent I do too, it takes the guess work out of finding them another book and often sees them desperate to find out what happens next. Our most popular series at the moment is the Tom Gates books.
- Let them read picture books
Again, as well-meaning adults we can sometimes contribute to the problem by rushing children to ‘move on’ from picture books. Picture books are brilliant at conveying complex ideas in a seemingly simple way. We love the Mr Men books in our house.
- Books for dyslexic children
Barrington Stoke is a publisher specialising in books for dyslexic and reluctant readers. They publish well-known authors but keep the books short, printed on tinted paper with an easy to read font making all their books super-readable.
- Books for mental well-being
There are some brilliant books out this year to help with mental health, bullying and resilience. You Are Awesome by Times journalist and mindset author Matthew Syed helps children find the confidence to fulfill their potential.
- Books for sports lovers
My 10 year old son pretty much only reads football books. Thankfully, there are a lot of them, though he is particularly enjoying the Ultimate Football Heroes by Matt and Tom Oldfield. Whichever sport your child is into, let them read inspiring biographies, tactics and fact books.
- Lastly and perhaps importantly, the best thing to do is to not judge their book choices. Whatever they’re interested in reading, let them read it. Books, magazines, comics, blogs; reading is reading. What’s much more important is to get them to think about what they’ve read. What did they enjoy about it? Did they like the illustrations? Would they want to read more by this author? Is it an adventure? A fantasy? Was it funny?
Georgina Atwell is the founder of the children’s book review website toppsta
where children read and review books and share their recommendations.