Thursday, July 18, 2019

Keeping the reading engine ticking over during the long summer holidays - This week's #ReaditTorial

It's something we see every year, and it's something that a lot of teachers and educators worry a lot about as well. Keeping kids reading during the long summer holidays isn't easy, and though I would probably say we've never struggled getting C to read over the summer, this year we did come up with a few ideas to try and move her away from the types of books she always favours, or to try and gently convince her away from her 'comfort zone'.

So my wife came up with a corking idea and here's a few more that might work for you and your kids too.

1) 'Blind book' challenge. 

My wife wrapped four chapter books up in carrier bags so that C couldn't see the contents. Her selected book would be the next thing she'd read cover to cover. With the caveat that if she REALLY didn't get on with the book she could quit and pick one of the other 'covered' books as an alternative. 1 week in and it'll be interesting to see how she gets on, but if you have books at home that your kids absolutely don't want to read, or if you have access to your local library, maybe try this approach of hiding covers / synopses of books before they leap in.

2) Read a non-fiction book cover to cover. 

For a lot of kids this is harder than it sounds, as most non-fic is designed to be dipped into, referenced etc. C rather neatly got around this one by reading one of Philip Ardagh's "Secret Diary' books, claiming that technically it fell in between both fiction / non fiction camps. Smart move!

3) Try them with something more 'grown up'. 

Obviously we're not talking about letting your kids loose on those crumpled old copies of the Fifty Shades series you forgot to donate to your local National Trust used bookshop, but if your kids are at the upper end of the Middle Grade age group (11 plus) try things like famous people's biographies etc, particularly actors or authors they admire. These might be worthy material. (As long as you vet them first of course!)

4) If they like a particular book, see if you can find others by the same author. 

Seems like a no-brainer this one but chances are they like that author's writing style enough to adapt to any other books that person might have written. Works for artists and illustrators too, of course!

5) Write as well as read. 

If you're a bit handy and creative, how about setting each other writing / reading challenges. Write a short story for your child, age group appropriate (which is tougher than it sounds) and get them to give you a good honest critique of it. Likewise, get them to write something for you and do the same. This is hard, but it's stupid amounts of fun (and if you're a would-be author, it's a very good way of sharpening up your game). Even better still, collaborate on a story together. Write a paragraph each and see how much fun you can have trying to paint your collaborator into a corner with the storyline!

6) Similarly, write and draw a comic together, swapping roles as writer / illustrator.

Even if you claim you can't draw or write, give it a go and give your creative side some exercise and your kid's too!

7) Above all, even if you feel like your kid is stuck in a reading rut, it's better than not reading at all.

Encourage it, and see how you can gently tweak their choice of books, but never (ever) force your kids to read something they're reluctant to. That's what the education minister is there for, after all :)

8) Dig into magazines. There are some fantastic kid-friendly mags out there. Not just the plastic-tat-encrusted ones, but some truly fantastic stuff like "The Week Junior" or "National Geographic" to stimulate your child's own interests.

9) Read books that spawned successful movies. Again this is a bit of a no-brainer but quite often kids don't make the link between brilliant movie adaptations and the even-more-brilliant original book they were based on. For example, kick off by reading "Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne-Jones or "The Borrowers" and see just how different they are compared to the peerless Studio Ghibli versions.

10) Get outdoors. 

Honestly, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can escape for a couple of hours and get away from people, get out there, take a couple of books, find a shady spot and read outside. It's even better than "forest bathing" or any other daftness. Take a picnic, make a day of it and enjoy the sun!

Hope these reading tips work for you! Do drop us a line on twitter @readitdaddy if you decide to choose any of these, and let us know how you get on!