The Importance of Reading for Pleasure
“Read. Read. Read. Read.” Says the Littlest Bookeater as she chooses a book (Goodnight, Mr Panda) and brings it to me to read to her. She’s 20 months old, she *loves* books and “read” was one of her first words.
I’m lucky that both of my children (the Little Bookeaters), love stories and books, and being read to, and reading (well learning to read), as the benefits of reading for pleasure are well known.
As well as these benefits, which include a wider vocabulary, a deeper sense of empathy and a great imagination, reading together can be a really enjoyable and bonding experience. Seeing their ‘lightbulb’ moments as a new concept clicks into place, hearing their giggles as they encounter a peculiar word which tickles them, and asking “…and what do you think happens next?” at the end of a story and being told that the “dinosaur bakes a cake, of course!”.
Furthermore, the stories children hear shape their view of the world through showing them exotic places, different people, amazing creatures, intriguing concepts and new situations. Books and stories are also a great way of helping them handle any new real-life situations that children find they need help with. As according to research, brain activity when we read about a situation in a story is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, so reading about a situation with a child helps them to work out how to deal with it in real life. Which is great in the increasingly complex world we live in.
So, how can we as parents encourage our children to develop a love for reading for pleasure?
Here are a few things we do at Let Them Eat Books…
💛 We ask questions during and after reading stories. Lots of questions. Literal questions such as; whose birthday party was it? Inference questions, such as; and why did he do that? And evaluative questions, such as; do you think he should have done that?
💛 We generally read stories after mealtimes as well as at bedtime. Bedtime StoryTime is one of the best times of the day!
💛 We link stories to bookish activities to really bring them to life in a practical way. Sciencey activities such as making liquid rainbows*, and crafty activities, such as making a Stickman, and baking, such as baked doughnuts from Steve Antony’s Mr Panda series, and nature activities, such as a seasonal activity sheet available from the Brambly Hedge website. Endless options really.
💛 We go to children’s literary events, everything from book festivals to the free StoryTime sessions in our local libraries.
💛 Instead of playing games such as ‘I spy’ during long car journeys, we play Guess the Book. Me and the Little Bookeater take it in turns to say a line from one of our books and the other guesses the title. You’ll be amazed at just how much they (and you!) remember. We also have lots of audio-books in the car.
ExplorerTots sell amazing craft and science activity boxes. More information here: https://explorertots.com
The Brambly Hedge activity sheets are available here: https://www.bramblyhedge.co.uk/activities/
There are lots of examples of bookish activities on our Facebook and Instagram pages
In Berkshire there are Story Craft sessions for little ones aged 18months – 5 years, which are fabulous. More information here: https://www.story-craft.co.uk