As a teacher I love books. In fact, I love them so much that you could easily mistake me for a Mum who lines up at Aldi each January when the book sale is on and fights her way through the crowds to the book bin. This coming from a teacher who would like her own children, however, has not yet been blessed with any.
As a result of my love for reading, I thrive when children get excited about it too. But what do you do when a child isn’t? And why aren’t they? Well, here are some tips and tricks I have learnt over the years.
0-3 years of age
- Introduce reading ASAP – that means when they are in the womb. If you haven’t don’t worry but start as soon as you can.
- Hardcover books- the paper ones may look pretty but they won’t last long
- Books with 1 sentence a page
- Books with large colourful pictures
- Topics such as animals/transport
- Introduce nursery rhymes- This is essential as it assists children with hearing rhyming words (they won’t be able to replicate this until end of prep/year 1 etc.), word/sentence patterns, new vocabulary etc.
- Children are active in the reading- they turn the page when old enough, you imitate words of animal sounds etc.
- Point out signs and what they mean- e.g. stop signs, McDonald’s sign, hospital sign etc.
- Make reading part of your nightly routine
3-6 years of age
- Concepts of print (5 y.o+)- This is critical. Children will be looking more deeply at this in prep. E.g. is your child able to independently able to turn a page, know when to, identify that you read words and not pictures, know that righting goes from left to right, and top to bottom. Do they know where the front page is and the back? Do they hold the book up the correct way?- These are skills that children learn gradually but are wonderful to introduce.
- Teach what an author is and an illustrator
- Teach the parts of a book- cover, blurb, spine, wrap-around picture (a picture that goes across the front and back cover when opened up.)
- Listening stories- on CD, the iPad, iPhone etc. More suited for 5-6 year olds (some 4-year-olds will be able to do.). Great for long journeys- Forget the video screen – grab the book and CD combo- They are still around
- Continue nursery rhymes and well-known fairy tales
- If your child is in school they will be learning sight words – encourage them to point these out when you’re out and about- at the shops, on a sign etc.
- Act out stories- you’re at the park with a bridge and you have just read the three billy goats gruff. Excellent! Roleplay. You narrate the story and act as the troll while your child plays the goats or more likely they will want to be the bad character. Not only are you working your child’s memory but also their ability to retell the story. A skill and required learning component in prep. And as a side note, you will be the envy of every child at the park. Many friend’s children can attest to that
- Continue to make reading part of your nightly routine!
7-10 years of age
- This is the age at which I have found children struggle the most
- Books with short chapters- children at this age love to feel older than they are and get very excited about finishing a chapter
- Funny story lines- Do you remember Goosebumps?
- Stories that incorporate relational plots or some form of action/a story with a hero/heroine.
- Comics are a great way to encourage reluctant readers
- Create your own stories and share these with a younger child. Fantastic opportunity to promote creativity, reading and writing skills.
- Don’t stop making reading part of your nightly routine- Children at this age- in the upper bracket may begin to balk but guaranteed once you start it will be hard to stop- books such as the full Chronicles of Narnia for ages 8 and up are fantastic! I cannot recommend this series enough!!
- For ages, 7-8 books such as Charlotte’s web or other chapter books work well.
- Children at this age love series.
- Include books that explore abstract ideas and world issues.
- Topics that include people, the environment, world, friendship, all relationships between people are very important.
- Don’t stop reading with children/teens- You will begin this age bracket reading to them and then transition to companion reading to independent read/discuss.
- 11-12- You read- e.g. Continue Chronicles of Narnia or begin Lord of the Rings etc.
- 13-14- Together share the reading- A chapter at a time. It’s about time you get a break after all these years J
- 15+- Encourage your teen to read an article, information text or story on their own and to share their findings with you. E.g. are they looking at world politics, religion, the way bitcoin works, robot electronics etc.? This technique also allows for continued communication with a pattern that was started when they were young. Make it a special time. You also bring something you have been reading and ask their thoughts. They will be happy you seek their insight also.
Other items to consider:
- Eye check up
- Confidence- drop back a level or two- use largely phonetical text. Ask your child’s school teacher what level of reading they are at (for example your child’s school may be using the pm benchmark set. These are set to a certain number. Ask to look at these books and get an idea of where your child is at).
- English isn’t the easiest language to read as it isn’t phonetical all of the time
- How do you personally feel about reading? Do you struggle?
- Good modelling by you, your husband/wife/partner is important. Off the phone and reading a paper book/newspaper.
- Do you value education and reading? Do you speak positively about it or negatively with your child? They will see and copy this.
- Good reading starts with good speaking. If a child cannot say a word they will not recognise it in written form and often write it incorrectly. That is because they are sounding out what they say. For example spaghetti. The ‘sp’ blend is challenging, I will say, and may take longer for some to master however if you have a nine-year-old saying ‘pa-sge-tee’ they will look for the word spaghetti as starting with a p and also write it how it sounds as well. Therefore it is very important that we are not afraid to use large words around young children. Their minds are sponges and are ready.
Most importantly – Have fun! Don’t forget to get some time reading for yourself too
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