Reading for Pleasure
- Reading for pleasure is possibly the single-most important activity your child can do to improve achievement in school. Research has shown that reading helps cognitive development; a recent IoE study revealed that students who read at home do ‘significantly better’ across the curriculum– including 9.9% better in maths – than students who don’t read. Linked to this is the fact that reading is the best way to improve vocabulary, essential for success in every subject.
- Reading also has social and emotional benefits. It increases self-esteem and studies show that students who read are more empathetic. Growing up is tough — reading can help young people explore complex problems from the safe fictional world of a book.
- At KEVI, we have a fantastic library led by our school librarian Mrs Peddel who can be contacted at SEP@king-ed.suffolk.sch.uk. Mrs Peddel is incredibly knowledgeable about books for young people and is keen to give recommendations. Students can borrow books from the library for free.
- In English, we set at least 40 minutes of reading every week at years 7, 8 and 9 with a book log on MS Teams. However, all students in all year groups should be reading for at least 40 minutes a week.
Reluctant Reader Tip 1: Find books with a connection to something they love. If they are football fans, look for footie fiction for teens – try Booked by Kwame Alexander; Football School Star Players by Bellos; or Dan Freedman or Tom Palmer’s books. If they like military/action/war, then try the Dog Tag series by CA London or Andy McNab’s teen books. If they like to watch Youtubers, try Zoella’s book club. And if they are into gaming, try fast-paced chapter books or ‘choose your own adventure’ stories. (Tip: try teen/YA author Alex Scarrow’s books – he was a professional video-game developer before he turned to writing; or Jeff Norton’s MetaWars series, billed as ‘a video game you can read’).
Reluctant Reader Tip 2: Any type of reading is helpful, so try graphic novels. Graphic novel versions of The Recruit by Muchamore, Silverfin by Higson and Stormbreaker by Horowitz are popular. Likewise, it is absolutely fine to read Wimpy Kid books if this is what sparks the interest of your reluctant reader.
Reluctant Reader Tip 3: If your child is ready, you might select a ‘grittier’ book, then verbally hum-and-haw about whether or not they are old enough to read the book. Tell them maybe they should wait six months as ‘there is some language and some blood’. Pretty soon they will be begging you for the book, and you can eventually give in, saying ‘since you are now in Year …, I guess it is okay’. Charlie Higson’s Enemy series is a gritty series written for teens, as is Zom-B by Darren Shan.
Reluctant Reader Tip 4: Visit the library with your child when you go into town. Ask your child to meet you in the library and then take your time selecting a book to read yourself. While they are waiting for you (modelling good practice), ask them to choose something for themselves.
Reluctant Reader Tip 5: Try a ‘phone/ screen free’ hour. Every day hand in their phone for an hour. Eventually (out of boredom?!) they may pick up a book! This could be a whole household New year’s resolution!
Reluctant Reader Tip 6: Some of our reluctant readers have a reading age below their chronological age. Another New Year’s resolution idea for readers who have a reading age of between 8 and 11 is The Reading Adventure Club. This programme sends you a book in a package with some treats – it helps young people to associate reading with something exciting and rewarding. It also comes with some discussion tips for parents, to help you support your children.
Reluctant Reader Tip 7: Be enthusiastic about what your children are reading: Ask them to describe a character or to read aloud an exciting bit. You might read a teen/YA book yourself; the plot-driven nature of many of these books means they are relatively easy reads – perfect after a day at work.
Reluctant Reader Tip 8: Let your children see you reading for pleasure, and talk about what you read and how you choose books. Seeing role models modelling reading is one of the biggest influences on young people reading. A lack of these role models is considered to be one of the reasons why there is a drop off in reading for boys. Make sure your reluctant boys see a male role model: dad/ step-dad/ older brother/ family friend reading around them and being passionate about what they are reading.
Reluctant Reader Tip 9: If you have younger children, ask your older (reluctant reader) child to read aloud to them. This is a big confidence booster and it helps with sibling bonding. Michael Morpurgo is a particularly good shared read, as his books have something for everyone; I highly recommend Kensuke’s Kingdom for sibling read-alouds.
Reluctant Reader Tip 10: Continue to read aloud to your children (even if they are fluent readers). Even if your child is in Y11. Choose books together that they probably wouldn’t read on their own. There is research that shows that reading a book to a student can have a positive impact on their reading age as well as getting them interested in the world of books.
Reluctant Reader Tip 11: Another idea is to find the book version of a movie: Stormbreaker, Eragon, Harry Potter, The Book Thief, I am Number Four, The Princess Diaries, The Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Fault in Our Stars, Twilight and Inkheart and Wonder are all films based on children/YA books. Both of you can read the book, go to the movie together — then discuss the differences.
My husband and I read the dystopian series Silo (3 books) over Christmas, and we are eagerly awaiting the Apple TV adaptation that is arriving soon. I can recommend these books to adults and younger readers alike – the first is called Wool, by Hugh Howey.
Reluctant Reader Tip 12: Try audio books: Libraries have free, downloadable audio books plus Audible has a wide range of teen books. Many teens like the idea of being able to do something active while listening to a book. By listening to an audio book, your teen will pick up new vocabulary, hear complex sentence structures and engage with stories.
Reluctant Reader Tip 13: Children can also read to pets: many animals love the attention this brings and it gives children a “judgement free” listener, as well as associating reading with a calm and loving companion.
Reluctant Reader Tip 14: Have them pick up a device – an e-reader! Then check with your local library about borrowing e-books or try the Kindle daily deal.
Reluctant Reader Tip 15: Listening to audio books as a family is good idea. Sharing a story together is a fabulous way to bond; try Stop the Train by McCaugrean, or Mort by Terry Pratchett.
Reluctant Reader Tip 16: Visit a bookstore and allow your child to select a book of their choice. The visually appealing marketing and layout of best-selling books can attract even reluctant readers.