If your child could do anything this summer, what would it be? Walk with dinosaurs, embark on a treasure hunt with pirates, propel themselves in to outer space, or maybe play for their favourite football team in a cup final? Anything is possible - when you find the right book!
When children enjoy reading, it fuels their imaginations and creativity, helps them develop empathy and changes the way they see and think about the world and their place in it. It gives children the building blocks they need to succeed at school, in work and in life. What's more, new National Literacy Trust research highlights the link between enjoyment of reading and attainment, showing that the longer children are able to keep an enjoyment of reading going, the greater the benefits in the classroom. 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who don't enjoy reading, rising to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.
For the past 20 years, our Young Readers Programme has been helping some of the poorest children in the UK unlock the joys of reading. Through the programme, more than 384,000 primary school children have been able to choose and take home over 1.1 million brand new books to keep. For many, these were the first books the children had ever owned.
As we mark this 20 year anniversary, we're thrilled that our latest research shows that children's levels of reading enjoyment are at an all-time high. In fact, three-quarters (77.6%) of primary school children enjoy reading.
This has no doubt been boosted by cross-sector reading for enjoyment initiatives at primary stage, such as the Young Readers Programme, World Book Day and the Summer Reading Challenge. In addition, we are living in a golden age of children's literature, with a wealth of wonderfully imaginative and inspiring children's authors and illustrators.
When it comes to helping children develop and sustain a love of reading, parents are vital. Did you know that reading with children for as little as 10 minutes a day can significantly boost how well they do at school? We've pulled together some top tips for parents to help encourage even the most reluctant child to get reading this summer:
- Make time to read: read a bedtime story with your child every night or set a regular time to read together during the day. Little and often works best.
- Let your child choose what to read: your child is more likely to develop a love of reading if they are able to choose the books they read with you. Join your local library for free and your child can pick from a wide selection of books that suit their interests or play to their hobbies, such as football or animals.
- Explore different reading materials and formats: as well as fiction there is a world of comics, magazines, ebooks, read-along audio books and non-fiction for your child to discover.
- Get the whole family involved: encourage your child to read with other family members including their grandparents, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles.
- Bring stories to life: when reading stories out loud with your child, give characters different voices and mannerisms. You could pause the story and ask your child what happens next or act out parts of the story together.
- Create fun reading challenges at home: on a rainy day you could organise a treasure hunt around the house; give your child a list of things to find and see how quickly they can read the list and collect all the items.
- Be positive: praise your child for trying hard at their reading and let them know it's alright to make mistakes.
- Be a reading role model: your child learns from you, so seeing you enjoying and valuing books can be a great inspiration.
We've also published a brand new book list, 20 Years of Children's Choices, to guide parents towards the books we know children love to read. The list celebrates the most popular books chosen every year of the last two decades by the children who have taken part in our Young Readers Programme. With everything from fantasy adventures with witches and wizards to how-to gaming guides and baking stories, there really is something for every child:
If you want more ideas to help inspire your child to fall in love with reading this summer, visit our Words for Life website which has everything you need, from fun family games to ideas for activities you can do outdoors: www.wordsforlife.org.uk