It’s no secret that the government has stepped up its reading initiatives throughout the country over the last few years following the revelation of the UK’s shocking literacy level results and we often see many famous authors at the forefront of these promotions. Obviously authors just want more people to read so more people buy their books, I hear you cry! Well yes…..and no. Yes because they want to make a living out of something they love to do but no because a child may love to read but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily like to read their books! Authors are pushing these campaigns because each one of them is continuously experiencing the true extent of how books can add value to anyone’s life. The strong link between the love of reading and writing is irrefutable and it is often by reading that a writer is inspired to create stories, just like those that inspired the writer to read in the first place. Writing fulfills the need to communicate and share that which inspires, uplifts and excites our minds, thoughts and perspectives and every kind of literature is bulging with words waiting to be understood.
Reading leads everyone along an individual path. What better way is there to assimilate information about our world other than through reading? Whether it’s via a book, comics, newspapers, emails, letters or the internet, it is still the act of reading. Books give children the opportunity to absorb information for their own use. In my world I accept dragons and fairies but boot out all the unwanted zombies!
Twins can lead identical lives but their experience and perspectives will always be different. No two people experience the world in the same way just as no two people will interpret a book in the same way. Books are packed with information of knowledge and experience which is there for us to question and challenge and contribute uniquely to our lives. This is how books nurture individuals and most importantly ones who can think for themselves. If everyone thought the same, the world would stagnate and never progress.
So I thought I would find out what the famous children’s authors are saying about reading and have summed up some of their top tips on ways to encourage children to read – from the mouths of those who know!
“The stories we love best do live in us forever.”
Sharing the experience has to be one of the best ways to encourage reading and finding the “right” book. #PotteritForward which was initiated by the MuggleNet fan site, has only added to the addictive magic of Harry Potter. The idea behind it is to leave post-it notes for the next reader giving their own real examples of what they have gained and what they will always remember from reading Harry Potter.
“Act the stories out a little bit with your child by taking turns to do the voices.”
Read interactively with your child. Julia Donaldson advises that reading rhyming stories with repeated sound patterns will help your child to decode and enable them to enjoy repeating the parts they know off by heart.
“It’s not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”
Read as a family for pleasure. Make books easily accessible at home to show books are not just for education but also for pleasure. Show that you as a parent are interested in stories and love reading too.
“The joy of a bedtime story is the key to developing a love of reading in children.”
Make time for bedtime reading. Let’s face it, children go to bed early so some of us aren’t even home from work by then but this is exactly when bedtime stories can become even more special, something to look forward to, a time with mummy or daddy and a treat. So Frank Cottrell Boyce is saying find that precious time to regularly read with your children each week.
“Libraries are about freedom. The freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.”
The choice is theirs. Neil Gaiman sees a library as the heart of reading for pleasure, a place where a child should be permitted to read anything they like.
“Tell boys books are highly inappropriate.”
Break the rules with reading. A clever approach of reverse psychology could indeed encourage many a reluctant reader to find out what they’re missing out on!
“Books fire children’s imaginations like nothing else.”
Get your imagination talking. On 19 Aug 2015 Nicky Morgan (education secretary) and David Walliams launched a campaign to encourage fun book clubs to be set up in schools to help children share the stories and read them together for mutual enjoyment.
Stop focusing on decoding and testing and encourage children “to lose themselves in a good story.”
Reading is fun and not just for school. Michael Rosen focuses on the danger that too much analysing could cause a fun activity to become something quite dull.
“Forget about reading being healthy. It’s not broccoli. In fact, most children’s books are lies. And the bigger the lie the better the book – as long as it’s emotionally true.”
Reading is not like vegetables! So don’t make them devour a book because it’s morally correct or sound advice. Let them devour it because it’s gives them the enjoyment of experiencing something new. Then they will make up their own mind as to whether it’s good for them or not.
“I’m interested in illustration in all its forms, not only in books for children but in posters, prints and performance, as a way of drawing people into books and stories.”
“I want to help and encourage every school to do more for readers: if they have nowhere to read, create a space with a few books; if they have a bookshelf, have two; if they have a reading room, aim for a library!”
Reading is more than words. Voted in as the new children’s laureate, Chris Riddell will be bringing words and pictures together and campaigning for more time and space to be allocated to reading in schools.
If you would like to help a child to read check out the charity Beanstalk.