Encouraging Children to Read for Fun
Published on 10/07/19
A librarian on social media recently referenced a conversation she had overheard between two children in her library. One of the children was asking the other why she needed to check out 15 books when they’d be returning to the library later in the week. The response ‘You don’t know that! Something could happen. These are my emergency books!’
As a self-confessed bookworm who spent almost every Saturday of her childhood in the local library maxing out her library card and then walking home barely able to see over her towering collection of newly acquired delights, this tweet was a timely reminder of the joy that reading can bring to children.
Scrolling through the responses, it was clear to see that this anecdote struck a chord with many other people as well - as they were reminded of their own reading roots.
But how do we encourage the next generation to understand the pleasure and enjoyment that can be achieved from reading for fun? The recent appointment of Cressida Cowell as the Children’s Laureate and the 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge seems like the perfect place to start!
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
The Summer Reading Challenge
Each year the Reading Agency run their Summer Reading Challenge which is the UK’s biggest reading challenge for children aged 4 - 11. Children can sign up in their local library and recieve a pack which encourages them to read 6 books throughout the summer holidays. If they complete the challenge, they can get a certificate and in some cases, a winner's sticker or a medal.
There is a different theme for each event but for 2019, the theme is Space Chase inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Children can sign up to take part in their local library from Saturday 13th July.
This year is extra special for the Reading Agency, as they are celebrating their 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Challenge. As someone who personally completed the Summer Reading Challenge in 2000, 2002 and 2003, it’s heartwarming to see the initiative surviving and thriving for a new generation of readers.
These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.
Roald Dahl, Matilda
The Children's Laureate 2019 - 2021
The Children's Laureate is a well-known writer or illustrator of children's books, who is elected by a panel of judges to 'promote and encourage children's interest in books, reading and writing'.
For the 2019 to 2021 period, Cressida Cowell has been chosen as Children's Laureate. She is the bestselling author of the much loved 'How To Train Your Dragon' and 'The Wizards of Once' book series.
As part of Cressida's plans for her appointment to the role of Children’s Laureate, she wishes to ‘boost creative writing in schools and halt the decline of primary school libraries’. She also wants to encourage children to ‘read for the joy of it’ and to understand that it’s 'okay to put a book down if they’re not enjoying it’ - which is certainly sage advice. We look forward to seeing what she achieves in her new role and how this impacts our local libraries and schools.
Encouraging Children To Read For Fun - Inspiring The Next Generation
To help children learn to enjoy reading for fun, there are many useful resources and organisations who provide free information for promoting, encouraging and nurturing a love of reading.
We've highlighted three important resources below:
Library services across the country provide people with books and Internet access. Libraries are an ideal option to encourage reading for both children and adults - you can find books you like or want to try, take them away for a fortnight and then bring them back and try new ones. It’s free to use and you can often borrow several books at a time, sometimes even with an online renewal service to help you keep it for a little longer if no one else has requested that particular book.
100 Best Children’s Books - The Book Trust
The Book Trust is the UK’s largest reading charity and has been set up to help get children reading. They have compiled a list of the 100 best books for children from the last 100 years and have even broken them down into categories from 0 - 5 years up to 12 - 14 years. If your child is stuck on what to read next, perhaps this list will help to inspire them.
Bonus resources: They have also put together lots of helpful reading tips and advice which can be accessed here.
The education company, and publishers, Pearson have spoken to experts and authors to put together their ‘Top 10 Tips’ to help turn children into bookworms. Their emphasis is on making reading fun and a natural part of family life.
There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.
Whether you’re an avid reader or just starting out on your reading journey, there will be a book out there for you, you just need to find it. It's also important to mention that everyone is different and no two people will like the exact same authors, genres and styles of writing. That's not a bad thing - it just means there's more books to go around. You might also prefer to read graphic novels or listen to audiobooks - and that's okay too!
However you’re spending your summer, I hope you get to experience it in the company of a really good book.
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!