There are all sorts of benefits associated with reading and enjoying a great love of books, from improved vocabulary and language skills to improving concentrating and better development of empathy.
But it seems that there are many children out there who are yet to discover the magic of getting lost in a good book, with new research from BookTrust revealing that 14 per cent of those aged between seven and nine currently read or are read to for less than 15 minutes a week outside school.
The organisation encourages families to read together for ten minutes each day to help children develop language skills, as well as imagination, curiosity and writing and listening skills. But just 37 per cent of young children in this country are being read to or read with a parent or carer for more than an hour a week in total.
And despite the fact that nine out of ten parents say that reading for pleasure is important for their offspring, one in seven admit that they never read to their kids before bed.
Anne Fine, former Waterstones Children’s Laureate, commented on the findings, saying: “the bedrock of education in all subjects, and enriches our children from both an emotional and a cultural perspective.
“For the parent, sharing a story with a small child is a sanity-saving, calming comfort, and reading to an older child soon becomes addictive. I’d encourage everyone to put aside the screens a little more to engage children with reading. It truly does work wonders.”
Director at BookTrust Gemma Malley made further remarks, saying that there is now a very real danger that parents and children are “sleepwalking into literary poverty” – which is when a child is read to or with for pleasures for under 15 minutes a week at home.
Browse the BookTrust website and you’ll find all sorts of tips to help you start reading more as a family. These include finding somewhere quiet with no distractions, asking your child to choose the book (showing them you care what they think and that their opinion matters) and sitting closely together to encourage your kids to hold the book themselves and turn the pages.
If the book you’re reading is illustrated, point to the pictures and relate them to something your child will understand. Perhaps ask them to describe the characters in the book or talk about the situation that the characters find themselves in.
You could even kickstart your baby’s interest in reading while they’re in the womb! What about singing rhymes and telling your unborn baby a few stories… they will be able to hear you from about 18 weeks on and will recognise your voice before they’re born!
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