Whether by reading all together – or drawing on the amazing breadth of stories, characters, authors, illustrators, and formats out there – so long as their reading experience is a positive one, children can be encouraged on a lifelong reading journey. Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency takes a look at how teachers and families can work together to get them going, helping young readers head in the right direction.
Bring home-habits to school
Understanding a child's reading habits at home, and the kind of texts they enjoy outside the classroom, can support their literacy skills and the wider enjoyment of reading. Opening up access to this information, and tailoring children’s reading to individual tastes, will spark conversations between teachers and children, and help encourage the routine of reading for pleasure.
Tools such as printed reading journals can be a fun way for children to record their thoughts on a book, as well as offering a means of incentivising them to keep reading, exploring new genres. Such journals can also be useful for teachers, further supporting them to learn the books their students are interested in.
Focus the conversation within families
Providing families with reading guides can be a great springboard for starting conversations with their children about what they’re reading. If a child doesn’t have a separate, quiet space to read, parents could make this a regular activity they do together with siblings. Or, if a child tends to read with the TV on in the background, parents can support their children to spend 15 minutes reading without distractions.
To ensure families feel engaged in their children’s reading, teachers might wish to share updates to parents and carers on what’s happening in the classroom, such as the book they are reading as a class and the conversations it has sparked. This could be done via a school’s newsletter, its website or social media, or during parents’ evening sessions.
Share and share alike
In a recent event hosted by The Reading Agency and the Open University, headteacher and education consultant Afsheen Nawaz suggested families could help support schools with book provisions: donating old copies that children or their siblings have outgrown. These could be added to a class’s book corner or redistributed to children who lack access to books at home.
Meanwhile, our Summer Reading Challenge, delivered in partnership with public libraries, also supports the reading for pleasure habit – and last year incentivised more than 700,000 children to sign up and read their favourite books over summer.
Of the thousands of families who took part in the 2020 challenge, 100% of parents/carers said their child maintained or increased their enjoyment of reading. 99% said their child maintained or increased their reading confidence. (1)
The Reading Agency is a national charity working to create a world where everyone can read their way to a better life. We use the proven power of reading to tackle life’s big challenges – building skills and learning, promoting health and wellbeing, and tackling loneliness and social isolation. We do this through UK-wide reading programmes developed in consultation with the audiences they serve, and delivered through schools, prisons, health centres, homes and in public libraries: www.readingagency.org.uk
1. Summer Reading Challenge 2020 overview