Improve your child’s literacy: how to make reading fun
Literacy is the ability to read, listen to, understand, process and write and talk about information. It’s an important life skill that directly affects success at school and beyond, so it’s easy to see why it’s a priority at every learning stage. Find out more in our guide for parents.
Interested in supporting your child’s literacy?
While listening and talking are important elements of literacy, the particular importance of reading is that it exposes children to a richer vocabulary than they encounter in everyday life. Because reading is more structured than conversation, it also helps the development of essential critical thinking skills.
While your child will read at school, it’s important they also read outside of school. A child’s reading at home can be self-led, allowing them to develop their own interests and discover how fun reading can be.
While this independence is crucial, your encouragement and interest as a parent will also boost their engagement and confidence with reading.
Even if your child is a reluctant reader, there are plenty of ways to make reading fun at home – and support their literacy by doing so. Remember:
✓ Reading at home doesn’t need to be linked to your child’s school learning
✓ You don’t need to be a literacy expert to encourage your child to read for pleasure
✓ Reading time doesn’t need to impact your time together as a family
We’ve compiled some suggestions to help you build a reading habit into your child’s routine.
1 Don’t force your child to read material they aren’t interested in – aim for their reading to be self-led.
2 Reading can support other interests – for example, football, computer games, cookery or skateboarding.
3 It’s useful to read a mix of non fiction and fiction – both genres boost students’ critical thinking skills. The mystery and wonder of fiction draws readers into an imaginative world, showing different perspectives that they can learn from. Non fiction helps readers’ comprehension strategies, and helps them learn key information without reading a whole text.
4 All reading counts. Your child might enjoy newspapers, magazines, comics, or even instruction manuals, and the digital world is limitless.
5 If they want to read the same text over and over, that’s fine! They will discover new meaning and reinforce learning each time.
6 Remember that libraries offer magazines, comics, audiobooks and more!
7 Encourage them to try a range of new texts to help them develop their own interests and become empowered with an improved knowledge of the world. Teach them to read the first page or the blurb on the back cover to decide if a particular book appeals to them.
8 When it comes to fiction, whole novels can be intimidating – try short stories instead. Once they discover a love for an author or style they are more likely to pick up a longer text.
9 Films or audiobooks might be another route in – once they’re hooked by the story, encourage them to read the book.
10 Reading choices could help your child work through anxieties. A character experiencing the same feelings can help them understand their own emotions. Our recommended books for children ages 6-14 include titles that deal with mental wellbeing, loss and worry.
11 Follow up their reading interests. Watch the film adaptation of a favourite book (and discuss the differences), act out memorable scenes, visit a museum to find out more on a theme or decorate their room with posters.
12 If possible, ensure that at a particular time of day there is a quiet spot in your home for them to retreat to to read, without any distractions.
13 Read together. If you’re about to visit somewhere new, read and discuss a guide to it, or share opinions on a text about a shared hobby or interest (like a cookbook from a favourite chef!). Read to your child, or listen to them read to you.
14 When you read together, stop to talk about the text. You could discuss what may happen next, ponder why a character has behaved as they have, or compare and contrast with real-life events. (You don’t have to restrict these conversations to books – talking about TV or films also gives them a chance to develop their own ideas. For more tips, read how simply talking with your child can improve their literacy.)
15 Even if you don’t read the same material, encourage them to discuss their reading – summarising the text and explaining their opinions is a great way of developing their thoughts.
16 Involve wider family. Your child could read and talk about reading with siblings, and grandparents could offer a fresh point of view on a text.
17 Help make reading a habit by giving them books as presents, and encourage them to swap books with friends.
Bedrock Vocabulary, a curriculum for children aged 6-16, introduces learners of all abilities to compelling, human-narrated fiction and non fiction texts to increase their knowledge of the world and help develop their interests. Each title teaches a range of academic vocabulary in depth, to help develop their literacy.
Fiction titles include A Dangerous Race, The Tale of Narcissus & Echo and The Legend of Sun Wukong and non-fiction topics include Creatures of the Sea, The Solar System, Alternative Energy and The History of Calypso.
For more ideas on boosting your child’s literacy:
✓ The National Literacy Trust website has ideas and resources to stimulate your child’s literacy whether they are 5-8 years old or 9-12 years old.
✓ The Reading Tub has ideas for how families can improve their children’s literacy.