Get Your Kids Stuck Into A Book

Research shows a link between parents’ support with reading and children’s ability to read. Here are some practical and easy solutions to help your family get in the habit, says Reading For Life.

Make sure your child squeezes in some reading every day
Everyone leads busy lives, but don’t be hard on yourself if there isn’t much time to spend sitting down, reading with your child. Instead try incorporating reading into your daily chores – children love helping and they won’t even realise that they’re practising their reading. For example, at the supermarket, encourage your child to read out the shopping list. Put your child in charge of ordering the food from a restaurant or café menu, and in the car or bus on the way home, she can read out road signs. When you’re cooking, ask one of your kids to read out the recipe for the cake you’re baking or the lasagne you’re making for dinner.

If you’re out at work during the day, try leaving notes for your kids to read later. Younger children will love to hear you read their favourite story to them down the phone. Meanwhile, pop some books or magazines in your bag, just in case you have some free time the next time you’re out together, for example, while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on books
Don’t worry, just stock your shelves every week with a visit to your local library. If you’re not already members, sign up the whole family. You can also take advantage of the free internet available there. Ask the librarian about the latest children’s books, or where to find books that tap into your kid’s interests.

For more free reads, don’t under-estimate what you have lying around the house. Your child could read out practical information from a car manual, or peruse free leaflets you have been given, like school newsletters and holiday brochures. Jumble sales, car boot sales and school fairs are great ways to get hold of cheap books.

Reading on the web
The internet gives you access to lots more reading opportunities. Most of the material is free, and ranges from poems and children’s news to games and stories. Interactive computer games may be helpful for enhancing your child’s problem-solving skills, while adventure games often have a storyline to read.

Boost communication skills
While reading is important, it’s also crucial to talk and listen to your child. Speaking and listening skills are often overlooked in favour of reading and writing, but all four skills provide the building blocks to communication. Without strong communication skills, children are more likely to struggle with the written word. So keep talking to your child, ask her questions and listen carefully to the answer so that she thinks she’s interesting and wants to communicate further. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask about her school day. Another tactic to develop talking and listening skills is to play a word game, like ‘quick fire 10’, in which you name 10 types of breakfast cereal or 10 characters from a favourite TV show. This is a great activity for long car journeys.

But my children aren’t really interested in reading
Think about what really interests your kids – one surefire way to encourage a reluctant child is to give her reading material that feeds her passion. So if your kid is a football or tennis fanatic, for example, encourage her to read the sports pages of the newspaper or a specialist magazine. Direct a child who loves animals to websites about different dog breeds. Finally, learn to enjoy reading yourself. If you are a reading role model, you let your children know that you think it’s cool. It won’t be long before they love reading too.

For more tips and advice about how you can encourage your child to read for pleasure, visit In 2011, The National Year Of Communication, Reading for Life is working closely with the Hello campaign. Visit for further information and free resources to support and develop your child’s communication development.

Books We Love

How Rocket Learnt to Read
by Tad Hills, Boxer Books, £6.99, ages: 4 plus, released May 2011

Rocket the puppy isn’t the least bit interested in reading – that is until a determined little yellow bird decides to teach him the alphabet. Together they explore the glorious world of imagination and reading, one letter at a time. This beautifully designed book is the creation of Tad Hills, the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator. He is well-known for his Duck and Goose picture book series. Kids who are learning to read will understand exactly what Rocket is going through.

The Wrong Pong
by Steven Butler, Puffin, £5.99, ages: 6 plus, released May 2011

Young Neville Brisket wakes up from a nightmare to find his room a mess and his dog sitting in his laundry basket. He is then whisked to another world through the toilet. In this new world, Neville is the member of a disgusting troll family and must find  someone to help him get back to his real family through some very messy adventures. Steven Butler brings families a story reminiscent of Horrid Henry favourites and Roald Dahl’s masterpieces. Through vivid illustrations and a hilarious storyline, families will be both grossed-out and highly entertained.

Storm Singing and Other Tangled Tasks
by Lari Don, Floris Books, £5.99, ages: 8 plus, released 16 June 2011

A girl named Helen and her animal friends help an Irish mermaid win a singing contest, but the prize leads to an  adventure. In a series of challenges, Rona, the mermaid, must defeat her competitors and also save the entire sea from possible war. This imaginative story will keep kids gripped. Writer Lari Don won the 2009 Royal Mail Award for her book, First Aid for Fairies. Her book, Rocking Horse War, won the 2010 Kelpies Prize and was celebrated at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last August. Storm Singing promises to be another literary gem.

Operation Black Cobra
by Ilka Remes, Andersen Press, £6.99, ages: 12 plus, released 2 June 2011

When Luke tries to buy a fake driver’s licence online, he gets more than he bargained for. In an attempt to protect the girl who was selling him the licence, he gets mixed up with her criminal dad and a plot to attack a nuclear convoy. He must find out how to stop the attack, before a catastrophe sweeps across London and the rest of the world. The novel navigates skilfully between high adventure and sensitivity – with a touch of romance thrown in – exploring what it means to step out of your comfort zone while staying true to a friend. This novel is the second instalment in the action-packed crime series written by popular Finnish author Ilka Remes, who has sold more than two million books worldwide.

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