Getting kids to read over the summer holidays July 29, 2019 – Posted in: Book News

Today I asked my daughter if she was looking forward to getting stuck in to a book over the summer holidays. “Not really” she said with a sigh, which is disappointing for such bookish parents!

Getting kids excited about reading when there are so many distractions, like TV and computer games, is an ongoing challenge, and one we know all about at Bags of Books. So we are constantly thinking about how we can entice kids to read and enjoy stories, especially during the long holidays.

Here are our 5 top tips to make reading more of a pleasure and less of a chore, along with some wise words thrown in from the great and the good of the children’s book world:

1. Share reading time

My daughter has never been a big reader (even though our house is crammed full of books and we always have a book to hand) but she has always loved us reading together and even though she is now nine, she still does. So we often use holidays as an opportunity to share books and take turns in reading to her, and her to us. We have gotten through most of Harry Potter in this way and it’s something we have all enjoyed. Studies even show that reading to a child every night improves how they do at school!

As children’s author Malorie Blackman says:
“Books and love are made for sharing.”

2.  Lead by example and put your own devices away for a while

Let’s face it, children are not famed for taking sensible advice from their parents, but what they are good at is following a bad example, so how can we blame them for constantly turning to their screens when they seeing us doing the same?! Use holidays as a way to have your own digital detox, as well as leading by example.

3. Bring back the joy of reading

Because schools are so focused on testing ability with everything, including reading, it can really suck the love of reading for it’s own sake out of our kids. Children’s author, campaigner and all round national treasure Michael Rosen, says this,

“The way forward is for schools to try and spend time implementing a wide ranging, fully inclusive reading for pleasure programme….involving the whole school community including parents, grandparents and carers – a cultural in-school and out-of-school policy.”

So whether your child’s school does this or not, use the summer as the perfect opportunity to encourage reading for pleasure and involve all the extended family you might be visiting too.

4.  Try not to judge what they are reading

It’s easy to get snobby about what children should read (especially when we do it to ourselves…..) which can be another way to zap the joy of reading. Magazines, comics, picture books, all have their place so let them get on with it.

Parents might despair of getting children to put down a screen and pick up a book but author of War Horse and other classics, and former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, regards technology as an ally. “Older children might read an eBook on a Kindle, I don’t give a damn,” he says.

“The most important thing is they get to love stories and the sound of words.”

5.  Make time for audio books

Continuing this theme of stories and words, audio books are perfect for this and can keep everyone sane on a long car journey! We have sometimes gone on to read a book that we have listened to together, or vice versa. The important thing is that the story remains uppermost in the child’s mind. It gives everyone a break and is a lovely shared experience. Finding the right audio book hopefully means you will never hear, “Are we nearly there yet?” ever again!

Holidays are all about taking the pressure off ourselves and our families in all ways, so let’s extend that to reading and the joy of sharing stories together, in whatever way we can.

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