It will be no surprise to my regular readers that I am keen about encouraging a love of reading in my children and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t find all three of them reading a book. We are at the stage of seeing D able to read independently and it’s so lovely and exciting to see. I wanted to share my top tips for encouraging a love of reading in young children and help them develop into confident readers.
You can never start reading too early
I read with D from day one – it was much easier to be fair as once Damian was back at work, it was just me and him at home in the day. It can be quite quiet and lonely as a new mum, so physically reading aloud helped break the silence. That and singing to him from the nursery rhyme books. D has always loved books and it was a lifesaver when I was in the latter stages of E’s pregnancy as D would toddle around getting book after book for me to read.
We still all head to the library on a regular basis and we all enjoy reading. The children also are getting fond of choosing books for me to bring home – although they do choose some interseting titles for me sometimes!
it's been a strange old week. Last weekend H was unwell with what I suspect was some sort of viral thing that caused two different rashes. D and E have been sniffing and coughing and both the cats have been unwell! today D succommed and spent the afternoon asleep before going to bed at 5pm. We went to the library this morning and ended up there for 90 minutes listening to stories and choosing new books. A slow Saturday but a nice one.
Book and Bed
We have done books then bed for as long as I can remember, and I dread the day they don’t want me to read to them at bedtime. D was always very good at sitting on knees for stories, and we had some real favourites that were read each and every night. E wasn’t as enamoured with bedtime reading as her older brother and H can be a little hit and miss with his bedtime reading, but has really improved in recent weeks.
Despite the struggle, we have always read at bedtime and it’s a part of the day that both D, E and H love now, and it happens no matter what. Even on the latest to bed night, they have at least one short story. We have enjoyed chapter books together or a big pile of books together. H has his favourites and his a fan of the noisy books and the ‘that’s not my books’. Knowing what works for them and engages them really helps too.
Don’t shy away from difficult words
D has a really good vocabulary and E is improving too. He uses some really interesting words to express himself sometimes and I am sure this is because we have never shied away from using difficult or complex words when reading to them. We went through a phase of reading a lot of Beatrix Potter books, which have quite old and tricky language in. We read them as they are and when he asked what things meant we explained. The same with the non-fiction books he likes; we have always tried to explain the words or help him think of words that could be used in their place.
Let them discover learning to read themselves
This is quite easy for us – we aren’t up against school timetables and assessments so we have had the freedom of letting D discover the joy of learning to read on his own terms in his own time. I’ve said before that in an encouraging and literature-rich environment like our home, the three children can’t fail to learn to read. We have looked at Reading Eggs which has been great with helping them work out initial sounds and we have had a few easy readers around. We like these books from Collins which we shared on Instagram a few weeks back. We also have a set of easy readers from Usborne and some Paw Patrol themed first reading books too.
H is in bed, D is swimming so E and I are settling down with this book from Collins and National Geographic. I'm really enjoying the #readaloudrevival and it's even prompted me to find 10 min a day to read. I have so many books to read. I think this will be the catalyst for starting E on her reading journey.
Leaving these books out and about has really helped D take the initiative and engage with them.
Keep reading material fresh
One of the best things that have really helped things click for D is having a regular supply of new and interesting material for him to look through. We love the weekly Post from Panda which we have been receiving the last few months. These are letters that arrive addressed to D each week and they’re written at a level that he can confidently do on his own (which of course helps build that confidence no end). He stores each letter away in its folder and he can’t wait to show them to my mum when she comes round. It really works and ‘Panda day’ is his favourite day of the week.
We have also been trying out Reading Chest this last fortnight. This is a great idea and one that, as a home educator, works really well. It can be costly buying in the various reading schemes. As good as my local library is, it’s really hard to find early readers that are at the right level for him and navigating the various reading bands is hard work. Reading Chest simplifies all that for you and sends you books on a rental basis to read. We have read four books from Reading Chest so far and it’s been great to see D’s excitement as he looks to see what books he has been sent.
Keeping reading material fresh also makes sure that you can accurately gauge how your child is doing and ensure they haven’t just remembered the story!
What other tips do you have for encouraging a love of reading and creating confident readers?