It probably comes as little surprise to parents that making reading fun for your child is one of the best ways to set them up for academic achievement.
A research report from The National Endowment for the Arts found that children and teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading tests than infrequent readers.
There's no doubt that reading for pleasure works wonders for improving your child's reading skills. So it's important for parents to know how to make reading fun from an early age, especially for so-called “reluctant readers”.
Here are some expert tips on how to make reading fun for your child.
Of all the research-based strategies for making reading fun for children, 'wide reading' is perhaps the most effective and easiest to implement.
Wide reading means giving your child lots of time, opportunities, resources and encouragement to engage in the practice of daily reading. This is time spent reading books and material they choose themselves, free from academic pressure.
A number of research studies prove that wide reading improves children's comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary, fluency and writing.
In reading for pleasure and making reading fun, there should be no log to fill in and no presentation about what they have been reading. Your child may choose to discuss their texts with peers, parents or teachers, but there should be no pressure on them to do so. It is reading purely for enjoyment.
Wide reading relies on the provision of a broad selection of texts. Your child should be allowed to choose their own reading material, following their interests and inclinations.
You can support your child by suggesting texts they might like based on what they have enjoyed reading in the past. This could be the next story in a series or a book by the same author. You could also look for more titles in the same genre. Be sure to offer choices though, not just one option.
Another way to make reading fun and nurture a love of books is to provide your child with a selection of texts that explore their interests. These could be nonfiction texts that will grow your child's knowledge and understanding of their current focus of curiosity, whether it's animals, oceans, motorbikes, mythical creatures, sports or dancing. You can also look for fiction stories that incorporate the topic.
Children should be given a stress-free time slot and environment in which to read for pleasure, at their own pace, with minimal adult intervention.
There are specific programs used in schools which encourage independent reading. The idea is to have a designated time period (10-20 minutes) where everyone in the class, or the whole school, is reading for pleasure. This includes the teachers and other staff, who are modeling good reading habits.
At home, reading for pleasure can be encouraged with planned reading times as well. There is benefit in the classic 'reading in bed before lights out' routine. In a 2009 study, researchers found that just six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%, allowing for better sleep, and it doesn't matter what is being read. The key is to make it reading for pleasure.
For school-aged children, the 'summer slide' is a well-documented phenomenon in which they are most vulnerable to losing knowledge and skills gained during the previous school year. This is because over the long summer holiday they are not practicing the skills they have learned in school.
Here are some findings from one study:
“Our research with 116 first, second, and third graders in a school in a middle-class neighborhood found that the decoding skills of nearly 45% of the participants and the fluency skills of 25% declined between the summer break.”
Some ways to beat the summer reading slide and making reading fun over the holidays include:
An online library or device full of e-books can transform reading into a fun, interactive and highly rewarding experience, particularly if they include a read-to-me audio function for beginner readers.
The searchable nature of an online library can also make choosing a book easier for your child.
The online library in Reading Eggs holds over 2500 e-books, making it an excellent resource for wide reading. It provides a broad selection of fiction and nonfiction texts across a variety of topics and genres.
There are texts from early reader level to pre-teens spanning popular children's genres like fantasy, comedy, fairy tales, science fiction, poetry, earth science, history and more.
As an online archive of books, the Reading Eggspress Library makes it easy for children to find the books they want.
The navigation of the search facility is clear and intuitive. The in-book navigation is simple and works as well on a tablet as it does on a PC or laptop. For younger children, the books from levels 0–20 have a voiceover that can read the text to them.
Children can mark the books they love, adding them to their personal list for a return reading. They can bookmark a page in a book to return to later – especially useful for those who are reading the longer chapter-based novels. Readers can choose to rate and review the books they read. They can also use others' ratings and reviews to make a decision about a book.
The Reading Eggspress Library is perfect for encouraging wide reading, both in school and at home.
We offer all new parents a free trial to see how Reading Eggs works for their child.
It only takes a few minutes to get started — and unlike other reading programs, you won't need to provide your credit card details until you're totally confident it's right for you.
Try Reading Eggs here to see how your child's reading and comprehension skills can improve in just weeks.
“The e-library is such a fantastic feature — the selection of books, the quizzes and rewards — JUST FABULOUS!” – Kim W.
“My son cannot get enough. Before he would never even look at a book, let alone read it! Now he pesters me to get on to Reading Eggspress so he can read another book!” – Jennifer P.