As a generalisation, we are reasonably good at reading to our children when they are young. However, with our hectic lives, the addictive and ever increasing number of ‘screen’ based activities and the addition of homework, we often stop reading to our children once they go to school and our focus becomes listening to our children reading.
Arguably, reading to our children becomes even more important once they start on the learning to read journey. We need to give our children a reason to want to persevere with the difficult task of learning to read so that they can independently enjoy the magic of books.
Once our children are reading, how do we ‘hook them into reading’ and help them become independent readers?
Read chapter books to your children that will excite their imagination.
Each night read from the book making sure you stop at a particularly exciting part. Books that have lots of small events intertwined into the story are particularly effective. If your children are clamouring for you to keep reading, then you know you are onto a ‘winner’. At that point, you say something along the lines of, “Well if you want to know what happens next, you can keep reading by yourself.”
The books that worked most successful for me with my children were the Enid Blyton Enchanted Forest and Wishing Chair series because within each story there were multiple small adventures and often a chapter finished in the middle of one of these adventures.
It is really important that if your children make the decision to try reading the book by themselves that you don’t then abandon them. The next night you need to pick up the same book, ask where they had read up to and continue reading from that point.
Send your children letters
Receiving real letters in the mail is exciting for everyone, but especially children. On a regular basis write and send your child a letter using vocabulary that they can read and a reasonable sized font. You can also encourage other family members (especially grandparents) to send letters.
The letters could be from an imaginary character. See the Fairy Pam and Pirate Ben letters:
Another alternative is to pick up a second hand book that your child would enjoy and is appropriate his/her reading level. Cut off the binding and send a chapter of the book in a letter each few days or when your child has finished reading the chapter. Make sure you are an active participant in helping your child reading the chapters.
Cook with your children
Cook is a great life skill and one I believe all parents should be teaching their children from when they are young age. It is also a great way to give your children a reason to want to read. If you can read and follow instructions, then you can cook. You don’t need to purchase children’s cooking books, you can just use the ones in your cupboard.
I used to take a photograph of my children’s creations, print the recipe and compiled their own cookbooks which they took with them when they left home.