Time and time again, research demonstrates the importance of reading on a child’s emotional, intellectual and social development. At the moment, when the range of activities open to us is severely limited, books can provide an escape to somewhere and something different to our current situation. I know how tempting screens can be, but finding a short amount of time in the day for your child to read can have enormous benefits.
Reading increases vocabulary and helps to improve communication skills.
Those who read tend to have a much better vocabulary than those who don’t. Having a more varied range of words to express how we feel and get our point across allows us to become clear communicators.
Reading makes us better spellers and writers.
Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms and genres of writing. Importantly, it exposes us to writing that is better than our own.
Reading improves focus and concentration.
Sitting down with a book often involves long periods of focus and concentration, which at first is challenging to do. In fact, it’s probably one of the main reasons that we choose not to read in the first place.
Reading improves imagination.
Our ability to imagine impacts everything we do, think about and create. We are only limited by what we can imagine. The worlds described in books, as well as other people’s views and opinions, help us to expand our understanding of what is possible.
Reading reduces stress.
In a world where stresses and strains are ever present, reading often tends to take a back seat, and why not, when there’s so much else that needs to be done? Studies show that reading actually helps to reduce stress. Taking a moment out of our busy schedule to read and enter the realms of escapism, has been proven to slow down heart rate and ease tension in muscles.
Reading improves memory.
Reading gives us a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. When we read, we have more time to think and contemplate.
Reading leads to academic success.
When we read, we often don’t even realise how much knowledge we are actually taking in. It’s no surprise to learn that books at home have been strongly linked to academic achievement when we consider all the skills reading helps to develop and improve.
Reading increases capacity for empathy.
Reading fiction has been shown to develop empathy by increasing our knowledge of others’ lives and experiences, helping us to recognise our similarity to them; it has the power to disrupt our stereotypes, making us contemplate and often reassess our position on a particular subject.
Reading is entertaining.
Although mentioned last, this is probably one of the most important reasons for reading. If reading wasn’t entertaining, then it would simply be a chore.
In the English Department, we are only too well aware of how many teenagers lose the good reading habits that they developed at primary school – this is something many parents discuss with us at Parents’ Evening. We have an important role to play here. To promote and encourage reading, we are launching a reading challenge at KS3.
Students will receive a ‘reading passport’. The aim is to read their way around the world – each step on their journey is 10 minutes reading. We want to encourage students to read a little each day and gradually build up their reading stamina and create a reading habit. Their reading will be recognised in school by their teachers but we would like parents at home to support this too.
So, the question you’re probably asking now is, how can I support my child to read at home? Some of the ideas below are very simple; others require a little more investment but the most important way to support your child’s reading is to show them that it is an enjoyable, worthwhile activity. By modelling this good habit to your child, you’ll be setting them a good example. Please remember that all reading is valuable – magazines, kindles, cook books, and with Christmas just around the corner, this is a great time to support your daughter with some of these suggestions.
No cost suggestions:
Join the local library. Kingsfold Library is still open during the national lockdown, although it is operating reduced hours:
Join the virtual library https://www.borrowbox.com/
This app allows the download of e-books completely free.
Encourage your daughter to use the form libraries in school. If she can’t find what she wants, our form librarians will take suggestions and ensure these are ordered.
Many newspapers and magazines are available for free online and don’t require a subscription.
Many authors run their own websites with extra chapters and character biographies. These are a really engaging way into reading. The most famous is www.pottermore.co.uk but there are many others.
Low cost suggestions:
Make sure that your home contains books that will interest your teenager.
Encourage your teenager to read magazines, newspapers or the sports guide. Leave them around your home. It doesn’t really matter what your child reads, as long as they read!
Share articles you’ve read from the newspaper or a magazine, especially if it’s something your teenager is interested in. Sunday supplements are particularly good.
Play audio books in the car. This will encourage reading for enjoyment. Recommend adult-themed books that would be appropriate.
Introduce books which are part of a series and biographies.
Ask teenagers to recommend books for younger readers in the family.
Many charity shops have a range of books that have been donated and are both in excellent condition and extremely cheap. St Catherine’s Hospice runs a bookshop on Wellington Road which is a great place to browse – you can stock a home library in an inexpensive way and support the local community.
More cost suggestions:
As Christmas is fast approaching, you could consider a subscription to a magazine that your teenager has an interest in as a present; subscriptions often represent a discount compared to buying the magazine weekly or monthly.
Create a ‘book nook’ in your home to encourage reading. There are lots of fantastic ideas on sites such as ‘Pinterest’ and this could provide a place that is a welcome escape during lockdown.
Invest in a kindle or e-book. E-books are often significantly cheaper than physical books and research has proven that kindles are more effective in encouraging reluctant readers in particular.
Stuck for ideas?
Helpful websites providing advice on choosing books are below. A great way into reading is often with a film or TV tie-in:
Mrs Woodhouse, Curriculum Leader for English