Children are often glued to a screen and getting them to put it down in favour of a book is a difficult task. Here Isabell Fisher, co-founder of Little Hands Learning, shares her three tips for getting your children excited about reading.
Phones and tablets are part of everyone’s lives. It can be tempting to allow our children to take advantage of all the content that the technology offers, but should we? In 2019 the World Health Organisation recommended no screen time for children under 3 and for children ages three and four, screen time of no more than one hour. The basic message from WHO was less is better.
However, for books, the opposite is the case. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator for success in life, much more than family circumstances, educational background or income. So as parents or carers, how we do get our kids more interested in books than they are in screens?
Start young, read daily, and don’t stop
Even the youngest babies find comfort in hearing your voice as you read a story. Bring stories to life by using funny voices and changing your tone to suit the story. Find time each day to read and make it part of your daily routine. By reading daily to your children you will be starting them on their journey of becoming lifelong readers. Even when your children can read to themselves, continue being part of their reading experience. If you show that you love books, they will too. Also, tap into their interests: if your little one loves trains, dinosaurs or fairies then read stories that feature them.
The adventure doesn’t need to stay on the page
Read in different in settings, not just on the sofa or in bed. Reading in unusual places to suit the setting in the story is a wonderful way to bring stories to life. If you are reading a book about a gnome that lives in a cave, build a cave in the living room and read the story in there. If you are reading a book set in a forest, find a shady spot under a tree to enjoy the book with your children.
Stories can also be great inspirations for play and craft activities. By creating activities linked to the book, the book can come to life and help children deepen their understanding of the story and therefore their love it. If you need some inspiration for book inspired activities visit the Little Hands Learning website where there is a huge bank of easy activity ideas to try with your children that help to bring a whole variety of books to life.
Make books visible, accessible, and exciting
Your child should be able to choose a book whenever they want. A basket of books that sits next to their toys or lowdown shelving containing books will encourage children to help themselves to a book instead of the iPad throughout the day. If you are worried about your child ripping the books, buy material or thick board books.
Create excitement around the arrival of a new book so that your child is desperate to read and get stuck in. Signing up to a book subscription is a great way to create that excitement, as every month a new “present” is delivered by the postman. But if that’s not possible, perhaps make it a monthly treat that you go out to look for a new book together. Reading as a family is a wonderful and easy way to spend time together. Through this simple activity we can promote reading for pleasure which will help their children succeed as they travel through life.