How to encourage reading for children

How to encourage reading

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National Storytelling Week takes place in the first week of February, helping to encourage reading for children. The benefits of reading for learning, bonding with parents and mental health are huge, so getting your little ones into books is a great achievement. And it doesn’t just have to be during that one week. Reading is a year-round activity.

In celebration of National Storytelling Week, these pensioners were filmed reading some absolute classics:

Here are some ways you can help your children learn to love reading…

How to encourage reading

1. It’s never too early

Babies might not understand the words in books, but they’ll love hearing your voice and looking at the pictures. It’s never too early to start sharing books with children – talk to your bump or even your newborn. Babies enjoy singing rhymes, books with black and white images, cloth books, and books with flaps to lift.

In England and Wales, ask your health visitor or library where you can pick up a free Bookstart Baby Pack, which includes books and advice about reading to babies.

2. Join a library

Join your local library to take advantage of their huge supply of books, as well as special events for children. Libraries are full of fantastic books and librarians can help you choose the right books for you and your child.

How to encourage reading

3. Follow the Bath, Book, Bed routine

Read a story to your baby or child at bedtime every night, and follow the Bath, Book, Bed routine. A regular nightly bedtime routine is shown to improve sleep in young children.

4. Remember books aren’t just for bedtime

However, remember that storytime can be any time. You don’t have to wait for bedtime to encourage reading.

5. Enjoy picture books together

As your child gets older, get them to look at picture books with you – and remember you don’t just have to read the words on the page, you can also look for interesting or funny things in the pictures. In their early years, picture books can be a lot of fun, but don’t worry if your child gets distracted or chews the book – that’s perfectly normal.

6. Just a few minutes reading is worthwhile

Even just a few minutes of reading can make a huge difference, so don’t worry if you have limited time. Any reading you can do with your child is valuable.

7. Let children choose what to read

Get the children to pick the book. Choosing a story is fun, and they might be more excited if it’s their choice. Small children are often interested in a book that’s connected to a favourite film or TV programme so that might be a good way to encourage reading. 

8. Eliminate distractions

Sit close together, get your child to hold the book and turn the pages, and make sure you switch off screens before you start reading. Having no distractions will make it easier for both of you to enjoy the story.

9. Ask questions and talk about the book

Picture books can be a great way to talk through your child’s fears and worries, and help them deal with their emotions. Encourage them to talk about any issues the books raise, and ask how they feel about things in the story.

10. Get other family members involved

It’s not just parents who can share stories with children – older brothers and sisters, grandparents and aunts and uncles can read with kids, too. Parents play a critical role in nurturing reading habits early on, but children need a wide range of reading role models to inspire them to pick up their next book.

Encourage reading

11. Read yourself

As well as reading to their children, parents should be good role models by reading themselves. It doesn’t matter what the reading material is – anything from a newspaper to a recipe in a cookbook – if your child sees you read, they are more likely to do so too.

12. Give books as presents and encourage swaps

As well as gifting books, encourage your children and their friends to swap books with each other, as this can get them talking about what they’re reading.

13. Have a family bookshelf

If you have space, having bookshelves in children’s bedrooms as well as a main family bookshelf is great so that books are visible and easily obtainable throughout the house. But don’t panic if your child reads the same book over and over again – that’s totally normal.

14. Keep reading together

You can continue reading with children, even when they’re a bit older. They might move onto series such as the Harry Potter books or A Series Of Unfortunate Events. The great thing for parents is that they start to get even more complex and interesting at this stage.

15. Have fun!

Remember there’s no right or wrong way to read a story, as long as you and your child are enjoying it. Have fun. Bring stories to life with silly voices and faces. This is a great way to encourage reading.


What is your favourite book to read with your children? Let us know in the Comments section below!

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