Every night, when it's reading time at our house, I ask my children to go and get their books. Some nights they scurry away, and quickly find themselves a comfy spot and get lost in the pages of their books. Ahhh ... happiness. Other nights I get a variety of responses, including, but not limited to:
'I've got nothing to read.' This is never true.
'I can't find my book.' Often true.
'Sorry, what did you say?' Always true.
And, at other times, I simply find there is no response. My child might grab the iPad, or sneak into another room (out of sight = out of mind). Sometimes, I am tired at the end of the day, and I don't take much notice, and before I know it, it's bed time, and no books have been read. Don't worry, I say to myself, 'there is always tomorrow night!'
But, other nights, I am up to their cunning wee ways, and make sure there is no dawdling. I call them back in from their iPads and hidey holes, and ask the obvious question: why aren't you reading? The answer usually becomes painfully obvious: they have a book, but not one they want to read, not one they are enjoying. The book they should hold in their hands, is simply too much hard work, and they would rather not, thank you very much.
IT'S OKAY WHEN YOUR CHILD DOES NOT LIKE A BOOK
It's perfectly natural for children, just like adults, not to like certain books, no matter the author or how much they are 'supposed' to like it. And, just because they don't like that book, it doesn't mean they won't love the next one. Knowing this means I am not discouraged. Knowing this means that I know what to do: find them another book.
If I am organised, I will have another book ready to give them, and if not, I will hand them another book that they have read before and enjoyed, while dashing like a crazy women to make myself a note to get them a new book before I forget. This usually solves the problem, and they are soon nestled into their comfy spots, their imaginations soaring.
RIGHT BOOK, RIGHT TIME
The right book for your child can make all the difference, and your child can change from a drooping flower to one that is reaching for the sky. It's simply transformational and your child, who you feared would grow up only reading speeding tickets, can be seen running to get the book from where they left it, and complain, loudly, when they have to go to bed. Or even better (okay worse, better, worse) be found reading their book by torch when they are supposed to be asleep.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
It's just so important that children not just learn to read, but read more frequently. Recent research from Scholastic shows that only 37% of children aged 6 - 17 are frequent readers, meaning they read for fun 5 - 7 days per week. Frequent readers, read, on average, 45.6 books per year. Conversely, infrequent readers read only 17 books per year, and read for fun less than one day per week.
That is a staggering difference and a major problem because infrequent readers are missing out on the MANY benefits of reading.
YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILD BECOME A FREQUENT READER
Getting your child to read more books starts by us parents embracing our role, in our child's reading journey. Then, it's a combination of helping your child improve their reading skills, and finding them books they love. And, this means, helping them find the right book at the right time - books they love, both when they are flying along with their reading and when they are struggling. And, this needs to continue for their whole childhood. Yes, all that time! Until they are all grown up.
Once these three actions occur, we will start to see the magic. There will be an increase in the number of books read, the enjoyment and therefore connection with books will increase, and this cycle will get stronger all the time, leading to your child becoming a frequent reader.
Don't forget that we ALL get stuck. We all despair. We all think at times: do I really have to keep up with this reading journey when they can read? The answer is, of course, yes. If we want our child to receive the full benefits of becoming a frequent reader, we need to keep on, keeping on -- and keep going.
Always remember that when the wheels are falling off in the reading department, and you have called 'reading time' and your child has hidden away in the house, perhaps with the dog, that you need to quickly find a book your child will love. It does makes all the difference.
I'm a passionate about helping children read frequently - forging a life-long connection with books. In this blog, you will also find helpful, practical advice for parents to help support them in their families reading journey.