Reading for pleasure… and to improve numeracy skills of course!

The BBC recently reported that children who read for pleasure improve their literacy skills (and that should not be surprising at all), but they also improve their numeracy skills compared with children who do not read for pleasure. This research is pretty solid as it was carried out over a long period of time on as many as six thousand individuals, so there is quite a bit of evidence that stuck up to show this pattern.

But how can I make my child enjoy reading?

The answer is simple. It’s not easy! However, there are a few things that can be done with your children that will have an effect and will not only help your little ones improve their reading, but also attract them to books more. Here are five quick and effective tips:

1) Read every day! Even reading as little as 10 minutes each day will make a big difference. You might not notice at first, but in just a few weeks your children’s reading skills will improve considerably and you will really notice a big difference. We’ve seen many learners in their early years of Primary School who were not making much progress and getting them to read regularly was a very beneficial activity.

2) Read with them! Read with your children and take a little time every day to sit down with them to listen to their reading.

3) Praise them! As your children are reading with you make sure you praise them when they read and highlight their progress. Use little phrases like “Well done! That was a really hard word to read”

4) Take turns! We’ve met some very reluctant readers and it can sometimes be a bit of a fight for parents to make them read, but it is a battle that needs to be fought with strategy. See what works for your child, but we found that for some striking a deal might be just the compromise that will get them to read more willingly. So, tell them you’re going to take turns. You read a page and they read the next page. If they see you are willing to participate actively in their reading, they will become less reluctant towards books. Besides, when it is your turn to read they will still follow your reading on the page, which can be a great help.

5) Turn on the sub-titles! These days pretty much everything on screen gives you the ability to turn sub-titles on, so take advantage of this great feature. If your children aren’t making much progress at school in their reading, you can help them by simply putting written words in front of them all the time. So, as they watch their favourite DVD, or TV programmes, they can see the words appearing on the screen. This can be very useful, because they will notice the high frequency words they are learning at school popping up everywhere and they will begin to make progress without even realising they are reading.

So, these are some quick tips about improving your children’s reading skills, but we need to get them to that point where they will actually enjoy reading. How can it be done? Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if your child carried on reading in their bed for pleasure?

Finding a hook!

Certainly using the tips above to improve children’s reading skills is vital to getting closer to that stage when they will enjoy reading independently. Obviously, they will not be able to enjoy readying, if they are not proficient enough in it, so getting them to a stage where they can read confidently on their own has to be the main focus of their reading journey. But as soon as possible you need to identify what kind of reading attracts your children’s attention the most. For some learners it will be stories, for others factual books, e.g. science books, animal books, etc…

Once you’ve found what kind of reading tickles your children’s interest read those books more frequently with them. Eventually, they will reach a stage where they will want to carry on reading the next chapter instead of saying “Done! Can I go now?” When that happens you know you’re very close to success.

cover-bq-fernothefiredragonThere are a variety of great books and very engaging stories for children around, but for boys we’ve found that a fairly recent series of magic adventures called Beast Quest is usually very well received. What’s good about these stories is that they are short, but long enough to make a sizeable reading for your children. The chapters are manageable and in about 10-15 minutes your child should be able to read one chapter. The vocabulary is rich, but not too overwhelming and the pictures help the reader to make sense of the stories. With Beast Quest we’ve seen learners improve their reading many folds, beginning to read in bed after the “Night, night!” was given and talking about the stories with their school friends. Essentially, this type of books have helped many to shift reluctant readers towards reading for pleasure. You can find Beast Quest books in most public libraries, so why don’t you get in with you child’s membership card and borrow one?

What do you children like reading?

Above is just one suggestion, but which books turned your children into readers? Add your suggestions in the comments, please!

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2 comments on “Reading for pleasure… and to improve numeracy skills of course!
  1. Ann Williams says:

    @liveotherwise pointed out on Twitter that she knows lots of girls who are very engaged with Beast Quest books! We do agree with that, as there are great features that would really capture girls’ imagination, e.g. Ellena is a great role model for girls. Perhaps we should have written in the post above that we’ve found the books particularly engaging for boys, but that they are very well received by girls too.

  2. ‘The Harry Potter ‘ series by J.K Rowling is fantastic for engaging children of all ages. The earlier books can be read to younger children and in my experience they will then pick them up independently and read them. My 8 year old revisited the series earlier in the year and read through all the titles within a couple of months. The magical world appeals to both boys and girls.

    I would also recommend any and all Roald Dahl books. There is nothing like a little mischief to hook in children. ‘Horrid Henry’ books by Francesca Simon are also a big hit as they are very amusing.

    There are so many wonderful books out there for children to read and to have read to them. I urge parents to take their kids to the library on a frequent basis to really get them excited about reading.

    Thanks and happy reading!

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