Supporting your child to read at home

What can you do to support your child with reading?

Apply the evidence around reading aloud challenging texts at home – reading aloud to your child doesn’t need to stop at primary school. It would be fantastic if you could replicate what we are doing with our tutorial reading programme and find some opportunities to read to or with your child. This will support our endeavours and show your child that you take reading seriously. This article by world renowned educator Doug Lemov puts forward a compelling case: 

  • Create opportunities for shared reading experiences. Encourage your older children to read aloud to your younger children or to read to a grandparent. Encourage them to record a story to send to a relative who might appreciate this contact or have a shared  book experience with your child where you both read the same book and talk about what is happening in it.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that just putting the subtitles on TV programmes/films can support your child to strengthen their reading skill. It also fosters vocabulary acquisition.
  • Join your local library
  • There are lots more tips in the attached guidance for those of you who may have a ‘reluctant reader’.

There is no doubt that reading skill and reading will support academic success and, if we can work together to ensure frequent, daily reading, then all of our students will benefit.

So, you have a RELUCTANT READER … ?

Reading for pleasure is possibly the single-most important activity your child can do to improve achievement in school. Research has shown that reading helps cognitive development; a recent IoE study revealed that students who read at home do ‘significantly better’ across the curriculum – including 9.9% better in maths – than students who don’t read. Linked to this is the fact that reading is the best way to improve vocabulary, essential for success in every subject. Reading also has social and emotional benefits. It increases self-esteem and studies show that students who read are more empathetic. Growing up is tough — reading can help young people explore complex problems from the safe fictional world of a book.

The problem, of course, is convincing young people of the importance and joy of reading. As a parent of teens/young adults, I understand how difficult this can be in a world of electronic distractions. Here are some ideas you could use to encourage them to read:

  • Find books with a connection to something they love. If they are football fans, look for footie fiction for teens – try Booked by Kwame Alexander or Dan Freedman or Tom Palmer’s books, for example. If they like military/action/war, then try the Dog Tag series by CA London or Andy McNab’s teen books. If they like to watch Youtubers, try Zoella’s book club.  And if they are into gaming, try fast-paced chapter books or ‘choose your own adventure’ stories. (Tip: try teen/YA author Alex Scarrow’s books – he was a professional video-game developer before he turned to writing; or Jeff Norton’s MetaWars series, billed as ‘a video game you can read’).
  • Look at our ‘Recommended Reads’ lists: we have lists broken down by genre for key stage 3 and key stage 4.
  • Any type of reading is helpful, so try graphic novels. Graphic novel versions of The Recruit by Muchamore, Silverfin by Higson and Stormbreaker by Horowitz are popular.
  • If your child has dyslexic traits, try Barrington Stoke books; these are produced with tinted pages, special fonts and spacing, thicker paper and editing to reduce comprehension barriers.
  • If your child is ready, you might select a ‘grittier’ book, then verbally hum-and-haw about whether or not they are old enough to read the book. Tell them maybe they should wait six months as ‘there is some language and some blood’. Pretty soon they will be begging you for the book, and you can eventually give in, saying ‘since you are now in Year …, I guess it is okay’. Charlie Higson’s Enemy series is a gritty series written for teens, as is Zom-B by Darren Shan; or try books from our ‘difficult issues’ list.
  • Visit the library with your child when you go into town. Ask your child to meet you in the library and then take your time selecting a book to read yourself.
  • Try a ‘phone free’ hour that you all adhere to and let them see you reading.
  • Be enthusiastic about what they are reading: ask them to describe a character or to read aloud an exciting bit. You might read a teen/YA book yourself; the plot-driven nature of many of these books means they are relatively easy reads – perfect after a  day at work.
  • Let your children see you reading for pleasure, and talk about what you read and how you choose books.
  • If you have younger children, ask your older (reluctant reader) child to read aloud to them.
  • This is a big confidence booster and it helps with sibling bonding. Michael Morpurgo is a particularly good shared read, as his books have something for everyone; I highly recommend Kensuke’s Kingdom for sibling read-alouds.
  • Children can also read to pets!
  • Continue to read aloud to your children (even if they are fluent readers). Sharing a book is an incredibly special experience for your child no matter how old they are.
  • Offer incentives.
  • Another idea is to find the book version of a movie: Stormbreaker, Eragon, Harry Potter, The Book Thief, I am Number Four, The Princess Diaries, The Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Fault in Our Stars, Twilight and Inkheart and Wonder are all films based on children/YA books. Both of you can read the book, watch the film together — then discuss the differences.
  • Have them pick up a device – an e-reader! Then check with your local library about borrowing e-books or try the Kindle daily deal.
  • Try audio books: libraries have free, downloadable audio books plus Audible has a wide range of teen books. Many teens like the idea of being able to do something active while listening to a book. By listening to an audio book, your teen will pick up new vocabulary, hear complex sentence structures and engage with stories.
  • Listening to audio books as a family is another good idea. Sharing a story together is a fabulous way to bond.
  • Visit a book shop and allow your child to select a book of their choice. The visually appealing marketing and layout of best-selling books can attract even reluctant readers.
  • Try biographies/autobiographies that interest your child. Recent student favourites have been Maddie Diaries by Ziegler & The Greatest (Muhammed Ali) by Walter Dean Myers.
  • Non-fiction books linked to a child’s interests are a great way to spark a desire to read.
  • Gentle encouragement works best.