If your kids have started school, it’s likely they’ll start learning to read soon too (if they haven’t already). Schools are great at providing resources and books to help your kids learn the basics of phonics and reading words by sight, but we want to make sure kids don’t start to see reading as something that they "have" to do at school.
Why reading at home should be fun
Reading for pleasure is one of the greatest indicators of success later in life for a child, so let’s make sure reading remains a source of entertainment for them. Of course, you may need to read some phonics books at home to help your child’s progress, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the fun books. One of the easiest ways to encourage reading is to have a selection of engaging books available in your home.
All books and shared reading will add to your child’s literacy skills. Even as you read to them aloud, you’re introducing them to new words, which will make it easier for them to build on their reading comprehension as their skills develop. And yes, it even counts if you’re reading a completely absurd book about a farting cat or superhero vegetable! (We’re just an email away if you want to know what those books are, by the way.)
As well as improving literacy levels, reading can also reduce stress. Having time set aside to share stories together will give your child a moment of calm during their day, which is especially important during transitions or stressful periods. Books are great to share before dinner, before bed, or whenever you have regular time together. Just ten minutes of reading together each day helps your child gain the many benefits that come with reading for pleasure.
This is easier to do with younger children when you’re sharing books together and they’re not yet reading on their own. But what about older children? You may find that they enjoy being read to into their teens even when they are confident readers. It’s a great way to spend time together without any pressure – by simply enjoying a great story.
The educational benefits of reading
But aside from being fun, what are all the benefits of reading for pleasure in relation to education? We’ll start with just a few:
- Reading for pleasure is a greater indicator of educational success than a child’s socio-economic status or their parents’ education level.
- Children who read at home also score higher in maths.
- Reading for pleasure leads to increased attainment across all topics and improves general knowledge.
- Reading builds vocabulary, text comprehension, grammar, and writing abilities.
- Reading fiction in particular helps develop empathy and social skills.
Finding time to read
Statistically, the older kids get, the less likely they are to pick up a book for fun. This is why it’s important to establish the habit early on, to embed the idea of reading as a fun and relaxing experience, rather than something they only associate with school.
This isn’t about reading for long periods of time. As mentioned above, these benefits can be seen from reading for as little as ten minutes a day. This is something you can build into your routine with younger children. For older kids with busy schedules, reading can happen between activities or when they have a few minutes of downtime. The more access they have to books and the more they’re encouraged to read what they’re interested in, the more likely they are to pick up a book when they have the time. Comics, books about gaming, and non-fiction books about specific topics are all reading, too!
As a parent, it’s important to establish a reading routine and to model reading within your home. We know that’s difficult with such a busy life, though. So if you need help finding picture books to share together when your kids are still young, then check out our picture book subscription, which will send you three of the best books to share with your kids every three months.