by Patience Thomson, author of 101 Ways to get your Child to Read
Teach children to love books right from the start. Enjoy reading to them. Make it a relaxed and happy time for both of you.
One of the most important skills children need at school is to listen and to concentrate. Read to your children little and often. Stop if they get restless or bored. It is better to have them begging for more than switched off.
Discuss the pictures and the story. Listen carefully to what your child has to say. If adults don’t listen to children, why should children listen to adults?
Try to find a quiet corner to read. Children with reading difficulties find it harder to concentrate.
Put lots of expression into your reading. Children need to recognise tone of voice if they are to respond correctly to social situations. You can act out bits of the story if the child likes that.
Share with children the pleasure of a tale well told. Retell it in your own words, inviting children to fill in bits of the story here and there. Most young children like to hear the same story over and over again.
Books use a wider range of words than are common in conversation. It is fun for a child to learn new and exciting words in books, so explain the ones he does not know. But don’t stop too often or the child will lose the thread of the story.
Prediction is a useful skill for later when children are learning to read for themselves. What do you think will happen next? Is the monster hiding in that cave?
Have a special shelf for your children’s favourite books and let them choose which one they want.
Books introduce children to new places, new people and new experiences. They also help children to understand a whole range of feelings. You can use puppets or soft toys to discuss these. “Is Teddy frightened? Shall we tell him it will all be fine?” The ability to put feelings into words is a wonderful skill for a child to develop.
Patience’s top books for primary age children
The Story of Tracy Beaker Jacqueline Wilson
Horrid Henry Francesca Simon
The Butterfly Lion Michael Morpurgo
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone J.K. Rowling
The Lion , the Witch and the Wardrobe C.S Lewis
The Cat in the Hat Dr Seuss
Danny, the Champion of the World Roald Dahl
Dogger Shirley Hughes
The Firework-Maker's Daughter Philip Pullman
The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton
Patience Thomson is a writer, a lecturer and an expert on reading. She is the author of 101 Ways to get your Child to Read, a Quick Read title that offers advice for parents of reluctant and struggling readers.