We know that children who come from homes that have a rich ‘reading culture’ generally do better at school. Why is this the case? Because being able to read is the one skill that gives children access to the most information possible. It allows them to engage with every subject at school. This is why helping your child to read and enjoy reading should be top of the family agenda. What can we do? As parents, what do we need to remember?
A ‘Reading Culture’ at home sets the tone
What does this look like? It means that you have a home where everyone values and loves books. It means that you visit the library together as often as you would the supermarket. It means that you show that you love to read yourself. Never feel guilty about your child catching you reading a book; this is behaviour they will begin to emulate over time. Try to give your children access to a great range of books. Don’t be judgemental about what they might choose. In school, they may have to read a certain series of books. At home, let them have free rein at the library or in the bookshop. Lastly, the evidence suggests that the more access to books children have at home, the more likely they are to earn as adults, so consider reading a lifetime investment!
Books aren’t just for Bedtime
These days, reading is not just an activity that children should only be enjoying at bedtime. Don’t miss those valuable opportunities to give your children access to magical and extraordinary stories in the car. Instead of staring down at a computer console, your child could be actively engaging their imagination through audiobooks that bring stories to life, and teach children about characterisation, mood and the rhythm of story-telling through their startling audio and narrative effects. If they enjoy audio tales, they may wish to read the book. Ask them how they compare? Audiobooks are a great option for children who may struggle to pick up a book and who claim that stories are boring!
Books can boost Children’s Resilience
Books give children immediate access to thousands of conversations, insights into how others experience the world and journeys through a roller-coaster of emotions. Being able to ‘put oneself in another’s shoes’ through books can help develop children’s empathetic understanding of the world whilst reassuring them that they are not alone. Harry Potter experiences the full range of emotions in Rowling’s tale, and as he lives through them, so do young readers. Characters provide reference points that children can recall and return to as they live through their own struggles.
Visit the Reading Planet
If your school invests in the Reading Planet reading scheme, you can be confident that your children are being given access to a range of diverse and exciting stories and characters that will truly ‘hook’ them. Use these books as a springboard for family chats and discussion. Ask your children which books are their favourites? Which characters remind them of people they know? Family talk about books ensures that the great learning your children do at school is bolstered at home. Communicate with your child’s teacher about how your child is responding to a book and share how you are getting on with reading at home.
Find out more about how your school can access the Reading Planet
Got kids in Years 5 & 6? Why not take a look at our Acheive Reading SATs Revision series
Dr Kathryn Weston is an expert on parental engagement and motivational speaker in the area of parenting, family life and education. See: www.drkathyweston.com or follow her on Facebook: Dr Kathy Weston or on Twitter: @parentengage