Ask the expert: How to raise a child who loves to read
Aoife Murray is the Programme and Events Manager at Children’s Books Ireland and an avid lover of books.
We caught up with her to chat kids, books and how to get them to put down the iPad and pick up a paperback.
Here are her top tips for raising a little reader:
Reading for pleasure is important
Any parent who has worried about their child’s almost freakish proficiency with an iPhone or iPad will have wondered about the effect technology will have on their future reading habits. Research from the UK’s National Literacy Trust shows that as well as improving children’s literacy and numeracy skills at school, reading for pleasure has a significant link with a person’s happiness.
In fact, reading for pleasure has been revealed as the most important indicator of the future success of a child and has benefits for the individual, the family, and the larger society. And as well as all that, it’s fun – the magic of being absorbed into the world of a brilliant book is something that every child has the right to experience.
On raising readers
Children learn from what they see the adults around them doing, so make sure you put down the phone and pick up the latest paperback blockbuster from time to time.
Another key is having books in the home and letting your children be surrounded by books from an early age. Choose books appropriate to your child’s age and keep them at a child-friendly height. The bottom shelf of a bookcase is the perfect location for picture books that your toddler can scoot over and pull out by themselves.
Some people consider babies too young to enjoy books, in fact, the opposite is true. Very young children require a huge amount of stimulus to learn, and the bright colours and fun textures of buggy-books and board books are ideal. Also, the time spent together exploring a book is so important for a baby’s emotional development.
Of equal importance for emotional development is the bedtime story. UK research indicates that up to one-third of parents have never read a book with their child before bed. Despite the increasingly busy lives we lead, the ritual of the bedtime story is so important for a child’s literacy and social development that it needs to be prioritized in the family schedule. The bedtime story is a chance to bond with your family in a safe, loving environment.
Pick the right book
One of the keys to reading for pleasure is locating the right book for the right child. A great starting point is your local public library or bookshop. The staff here have great knowledge of their stock and are experts in locating the right book for the right child.
Often parents are nervous about choosing a book appropriate to their child’s age or reading ability. All children have different reading abilities, alongside their level of emotional intelligence required to understand and digest certain topics. A good idea can be reading the book first yourself if you are unsure whether it will suit your child or not.