Having just reviewed Angela James brilliant new book The Theft of the Black Diamond I was delighted when she offered to write a guest post providing her tips to help get children reading. Since my son is a bit of a reluctant reader I will certainly be trying some of these out. I hope you find them useful as well:
Life today, is very different to when we were growing up. So many technological changes have taken place and now form part of daily living. There is a wealth of information and advice at the click of a button. But, sometimes it’s refreshing to bring a bit of traditional or dare I say ‘vintage’ quality to our children’s lives – to let them experience some of the joys we ourselves had so much fun doing. How can we do this with books and reading, especially for younger children?
- Some stories remain ‘classics’. They may have been re-written with different illustrations, but they remain popular – who can forget The Gingerbread Man with the ‘Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!’ or the repetition and rhyme of names in Chicken Licken such as Henny Penny and Ducky Lucky? Other titles include Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen and The Three Little Pigs. Re-visit these books with your own children.
- Link other activities to the stories. Make and bake a gingerbread man; drizzle honey over a bowl of porridge and ask if it’s ‘too hot, too cold or just right?’; make some dough like the little red hen or create finger puppets for the three little pigs and the big bad wolf.
- Introduce poetry at an early age by singing nursery rhymes. Show how the words have rhythm by clapping along. Progress to story poems.
- Use hand puppets or other favourite toys to read stories to children.
- Ask the children to tell the puppets/toys about a familiar story they know (an excellent memory exercise in addition to improving communication skills).
- Find early-learning books on nature. Look at the pictures to visually identify birds, leaves, animals or flowers. Then go for a ‘welly’ walk and become a detective. How many nature things can they spot from the book?
- Bring the natural world into their world. For example, autumn leaf shapes and colours. Afterwards, read about the season’s cycles or give a short verbal story about the life of a leaf from spring to autumn.
- Encourage older siblings to sit and read books with younger ones. This simple exercise shares the pleasure of books.
- Libraries may run story or rhyme-time sessions for young children. This is an excellent way to be surrounded by books in a positive atmosphere!
- Make books at bedtime something they will remember when they grow up and want to pass on to their own children. Snuggle up with a favourite story, a blanket and a warm bedtime drink. Make books the last thing they remember before they go to sleep.
These are just a few suggestions and if you do try any of them, I hope that they will not only create enjoyment for your children, but also give you the opportunity of experiencing a trip back into your own favourite childhood books with happy memories. Enjoy the shared time together!
Angela’s latest fantasy novel for children is The Theft of the Black Diamond.
More details about Angela can be found on http://angelajamesauthor.co.uk