I love reading. I find books a wonderful and welcome escape from the stresses of life, plus reading helps me to learn and discover.
I was lucky to be brought up with books around me when I was little and to have parents who read to me. I still have my childhood books, many battered and dog-eared (see below!), and have read these very same books to my own children.
It was always important to me to encourage my children to love books and reading, and I started building up a collection of books for my first child when I was pregnant with him, trawling charity shops on Gloucester Road.
Bringing up your children to love books will only help them. It will expand their vocabulary and knowledge, help them at school, plus will also give them a truly wonderful pastime.
If you are not a fan of books yourself, do carry on reading this! You can still help your children to learn to love reading and I can show you how…
1.Introduce books early
It’s never too early to introduce books to your child. As soon as a baby is able to hold a book, you can encourage a baby to look at pictures in a book, board books are great for this.
When my son was a little, we used to have a board book all about babies (I can’t remember what it was called). There was one particular page he loved, a huge picture of babies in the bath, splashing and playing, and he used to point at it and smile.
When you read to your kids, go slow, allow them to spend time looking at the pictures; they will notice things that you don’t.
2. It’s never too late to start!
Despite my first point, it is also never too late to introduce books to your child so don’t worry! Just start where you are, one small step at a time.if your child is older, or not keen to read, start them with comics, short reads, annuals or a non-fiction book about something they are interested in.
If they find reading difficult or if they are dyslexic, again comics are great, or dyslexia-friendly reads are fantastic (you can find these at the library).
3. Have books around your home
Having a few books around your home will not only encourage your children to look at them, but it will also normalise books and reading, making it a natural and normal part of life.
You can pick up cheap books in charity shops, plus borrow ones for free in your local library.
Audio books are also great! Both my children have loved listening to Roald Dahl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, plus Wonder, on audio.
Books also make great stocking fillers!
4. Read to them
Building reading to your child into your daily routine is really helpful. Reading a book to them just before they go to bed is great and will settle them; a short story is fine!
If your child has an older sibling who could read to them, or maybe another person in the household, such as Granny staying, take advantage of this, guest readers are great!
Bristol Libraries also offer online storytelling sessions for younger readers.
A friend of mine told me that when she was little and her mum was at home looking after her and her three siblings, when things got hard or the kids were angry or having tantrums, her mum would simply get down on the floor with them, then and there, and read them a story. It would be a great way for all to calm down and chill out (mum included).
5. Take your kids to the library
Taking your kids to the library can be fun (even if it’s not your idea of fun!). You can find your local library here.
Most libraries offer weekly drop-in Baby Bounce & Rhyme and Pre-school Storytime sessions for younger children. If your children are older, there are so many books for them to look at; even if your child is not an eager reader, you can be sure to find a non-fiction book about something they are interested in, for example, planets, monsters, or gymnastics!
One of my children is dyslexic and finds reading uncomfortable. However, that same child is an avid comic book reader and that’s fine!
6. Read yourself
If your child sees you reading it will encourage them to read also. Don’t worry if you don’t like reading yourself. Start with short stories or short reads. Set yourself low targets; simply deciding to read one page a day – a “daily page” is great.
7. Start small and don’t give up!
Introducing books to your children doesn’t have to be a huge change to your life or daily routine. Start small, for example, picking up some books at your local library or charity shop.
Don’t expect immediate results or give up if met with a lack of interest in books by your child; don’t put pressure on your children (or yourself) if so.
Persevere and one day you will have a lifelong reader on your hands!