How to Get Your Child Interested in Reading (and the benefits of doing so)

We all know that it’s important to get our children reading – but what if your child isn’t a book lover – what can you do to get your child interested in reading?

New research from the National Literacy Trust shows that the longer children keep an enjoyment of reading going, the greater the benefits are in the classroom.

Their research (based on 42,000 school children) revealed that 10 year olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who don’t enjoy reading, rising to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.

To help get reluctant readers excited about reading, the Trust has the following tips:

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  • Make time to read: read a bedtime story with your child every night or set a regular time to read together during the day. Little and often works best: a good ten minutes reading together is better than a difficult half hour!
  • Let your child choose what to read: your child is more likely to develop a love of reading if they are able to choose the books they read with you. Join your local library for free and your child can pick from a wide selection of books that suit their interests or play to their hobbies, such as football or animals.
  • Explore different reading materials and formats:  as well as fiction there is a world of comics, magazines, e-books, read-along audio books and non-fiction to discover.
  • Get the whole family involved: encourage your child to read with other family members like grandparents, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles.
  • Bring stories to life: when reading stories out loud with your child, give characters different voices that match their personalities. You could pause the story and ask your child what happens next, or even try acting out parts of the story together.
  • Create fun reading challenges at home: on a rainy day you could organise a treasure hunt around the house; give your child a list of things to find and see how quickly they can read the list and collect all the items.
  • Be positive: praise your child for trying hard at their reading and let them know it’s all right to make mistakes.
  • Be a reading role model: your child learns from you, so seeing you enjoying and valuing books can be a great inspiration.

You can also use the National Literacy Trust’s brand new book list, 20 Years of Children’s Choices, to help inspire your child to read. The list celebrates the most popular books chosen every year of the last two decades by the children who have taken part in the Young Readers Programme.

20 Years of Children’s Choices Book List

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling, 1997              

  2. Skellig - David Almond, 1998                
  3. The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler, 1999
  4. Stormbreaker - Anthony Horowitz, 2000
  5. Sleepovers - Jacqueline Wilson, 2001
  6. Utterly Me, Clarice Bean - Lauren Child, 2002
  7. How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell, 2003
  8. Mixed Up Fairy Tales - Hilary Robinson / Nick Sharratt, 2004
  9. The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips - Michael Morpurgo, 2005
  10. You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum - Andy Stanton / David Tazzyman, 2006
  11. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book - Jeff Kinney, 2007
  12. The Boy in the Dress - David Walliams, 2008
  13. Horrid Henry's Birthday Party - Francesca Simon, 2009
  14. Samantha the Swimming Fairy - Daisy Meadows, 2010               
  15. The Brilliant World of Tom Gates - Liz Pichon, 2011              
  16. Mega Mash-Up: Secret Agents v Giant Slugs in the Jungle - Nikalas Catlow / Tim Wesson, 2012              
  17. Minecraft: Beginner's Handbook, 2013                
  18. Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death - Chris Riddell, 2014                
  19. Robot Girl - Malorie Blackman, 2015
  20. Bake Me a Story - Nadiya Hussain, 2016

Why not sit your child down, get them to look through this list and ask them to choose a book you can read together? Maybe take them to the bookshop and let them buy their own copy or help them buy one online so they feel a sense of ownership over the new book?

You can find more advice on how you can support your child with reading at wordsforlife.org.uk.

What tips do you have to get children interested in reading?