Reading is the most powerful, exciting and interesting skill I think I learnt when I was small. I absolutely adored reading anything and everything and therefore was really keen to instill this into my children. Somehow I expected them to just love to read. I wanted to surround them with books and truely thought that this would be enough. Well, how wrong could I be. Firstly, I overwhelmed them with books. They couldn’t choose their favourite story as we had so many – each night we would read a different book and then move on. I wanted to expose them to many different types of books but in doing so I took away the delight that they would find in being able to read parts of a book themselves because it had been read to them so many times. So I took a step back, looked at what I thought was important and what they were interested in, and made some huge changes. After a year of experimenting, I think I’ve finally cracked it! The changes I made weren’t dramatic, some were really obvious, but all made a difference!
- Choose a handful of books, preferably with either a rhyme or a repetitive phrase, that would appeal to your child’s interests. I concentrated on Julia Donaldson books mainly because I knew them very well and they are so engaging for small people.
- Read, read and read the same book over and over again for several nights. I had expected the children to become bored with the same story, but we spent time looking at the pictures, finding something new to look at each time, and they started to join in with the refrains.
- Talk about the book you are reading when it’s not bedtime – this built the world up in their heads. For example, we went out and found our own Stickmen. We headed out to woods which had a Stickman trail and followed it round. We watched Stickman on the TV and finally we listened to it on CD in the car.
- Encourage the children to tell you the story – after a few hearings of it I was amazed that Little Sir could almost tell it back word for word!
- Only after several days, look at moving on to a new story – but always remember to come back to the old favourites.
I’ve found that once the children had the bones of a story in their heads, they were then more able to adapt it and retell it with different characters or the characters going on different adventures.So not only have they become readers, they have also become writers. They are so much more confident in standing up in front of others to tell stories they have made up – and Little Sir’s nursery was pleased to report that he stood up in front of all 10 children and told his own story using the Once upon a time…..Happily ever after format! It was so good to hear!
I’d love to know how you encouraged your children to become readers!
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