Encouraging a lifelong love of reading and how to choose the right book for your child

Encouraging a lifelong love of reading - Ever-changing Life of a Mum

In conjunction with Dymocks

Most nights my children read before going to bed. It’s a bit of a juggling act with three children of such different ages – 2, 8 and 12 – but it’s something we have done together since they were toddlers and it’s a routine I will continue to encourage.

Even though my eldest is nearing high school and usually reads to herself nearing high school, she still enjoys sharing a few pages from the current book she is reading and often asks if she can read to me. I love that she’s getting to an age where we’re starting to enjoy reading some of the same books – there’s some really great young adult fiction out there!

Personally, I can’t think of anything better than curling up with a good book before bed … well anytime really!

So I was excited to be contacted by Dymocks last week and hear all about its new campaign to encourage more children to pick up a book and get reading for fun.

I was also offered the opportunity to ask Dymocks literacy expert and author Louise Park a few questions to help parents of children of all age develop and maintain a lifelong love for reading – in particular she offers some fabulous tips for how to choose the right book for your child!

There’s also a handy list of book recommendations for different reading stages, in case you and your child need help with choosing a book.

Dymocks Books for Kids campaign

The launch of the Dymocks Books for Kids campaign coincides with the release of a survey it commissioned that found on average Australian children owned 18 books at home, while 39% own fewer than 11 books.

The survey also revealed that while over half of the parents surveyed said their children enjoyed reading for fun, two in five parents (42%) would like their children to read more.

The Books for Kids campaign aims to increase book ownership, promote reading for fun and raise literacy levels among disadvantaged children.

Buy any children’s book at Dymocks from 12-26 August 2017 and 50c will be donated on your behalf to local literacy support programs for students who need it most – Dymocks Children’s Charities has developed unique literacy support programs to encourage a lifelong love of books and hopes that more than 12,000 students across Australia will benefit from the Books for Kids campaign.

For more information on Books for Kids campaign visit, www.dymocks.com.au/booksforkids

Q & A with Louise Park

What are your feelings regarding the statistics on book ownership discovered in the Dymocks survey?

I’d love to see these stats alongside ownership of something like DVDs or the latest craze, but I know already what it would show: that owning your own books is much lower on the scale, and yet it is one of the most fundamental influencers for literacy acquisition. We want to create readers, we know the benefits of reading and we know how critical it is for our children. We also know how much children love to revisit that favourite game or movie they own— again and again, and again! We watch them talking about them with their friends, engaging and sharing. It’s crucial that books have this same status, if not more; that they can pull them from their shelves again and again and again! To pore over their covers and internals, share them with their friends, know their value—own them in every sense. I want to see this figure higher. I want it to be up there leading the list, and when it is, our literacy levels will soar.

In relation to engaging young readers, how do you strike the right balance between allowing children to choose their own books and making sure these books are appropriate for their reading level?

Parents are instinctively great teachers and guiders and in this it is no different. To begin with, model for your child how to choose a book that is just right and start early! Encourage them to be in the driver’s seat from the get-go! Slowly, you will see them become more and more skilled at it as you slowly back out. You will know when they have the hang of it. It’s very important that they choose their own reading material. Research tells us that allowing children to choose their own books does in fact make them better readers. Work through these tips with them so that they can learn to do this for themselves:

  • Talk with your child about the types of things they like to read. Know what genres and subject areas they really enjoy. Let them peruse the books and pull out what they are drawn to. For them there is no right or wrong here. If they like comics, great. If they like non-fiction, great. It’s about what rocks their boat, not yours!
  • Together, select a few from the pile and read the back cover blurbs. Then talk about whether this is something they would enjoy and why?
  • Now, flick through the internals and discuss together about whether the number of words per page and the number of illustrations supporting the text are appropriate, and why or why not.
  • Open the book to the first double page spread and have your child begin reading. Hold up a finger for each word they are not sure of, or do not know. If there are five or more words they do not know, the book is too hard and they should find an easier book. If the book is too hard, tell that that they will enjoy it more if they save it until they are a little bit older and that it is something to look forward to.

Remember, if it grabs them and takes reading to them on their terms, it’s gold. If it’s too hard they will be quickly turned off and it will impede their reading success and affect their self-esteem where reading is concerned.

For parents with older children, how can they help ensure a love for reading continues from the primary years into secondary school and beyond?

We talk a lot about reading to your child from birth, and to model the reading process and a love of reading. That shouldn’t stop simply because your child is no longer little. Let your primary and high school child see you reading for pleasure. Encourage them to talk to you about what they are reading. Share aloud passages that grabbed you! In short, don’t change what you’ve been doing just because you think they are independent readers and don’t need it anymore. As they grow older, share and trade books with them. Some of the best fiction on the market is young adult! But most importantly, and I can’t stress it enough, let them continue to choose their own books. For older children, choice is key! Giving them that power will motivate them and it doesn’t matter if it’s magazines, graphic novels, vampire books, or a text you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen – and establishing this habit from a young age will carry itself into the older years. That’s what we want!

Book recommendations from Dymocks

Picture books for younger readers
Pig the Pug
by Aaron Blabey
The Very Sleepy Bear by Nick Bland
Noni the Pony by Alison Lester

Intermediate readers (aged 6-8)
Clementine Rose and the Wedding Wobbles
by Jacqueline Harvey
The 91 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Really Weird by Anh Do

Older readers (aged 8-10)
Polly and Buster
by Sally Rippin
Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams
Withering by Sea by Judith Rossell

Young adult (aged 12+)
A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Frogkisser by Garth Nix
Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

For more, choose from a wide selection of children’s books from Dymocks.

*This is not a sponsored post, I simply want to share my love of books with others. However, I was gifted four books from Dymocks for the purpose of a future book review on the blog.

8 thoughts on “Encouraging a lifelong love of reading and how to choose the right book for your child

  1. I met Jacqueline Harvey (author of the Clementine Rose series) earlier this year. She has the Alice Miranda series as well for slightly older readers and is working on something for boys.

    I love reading and my passion grew out of my love of Enid Blyton (then Trixie Belden etc) as a kid. I think making reading enjoyable for children and encouraging them by reading yourself is essential!

    • I was such a bookworm as a kid … still am!! I discovered a love for reading when I started school. I don’t recall my parents reading to me a great deal, possibly because English wasn’t their first language, but they were always buying me books and I absolutely adored spending time in the library both at school and in the community!

  2. Wow, those stats are seriously surprising. But then I’ve discovered since Punky started school just how uncommon our house is in regards to books and reading. We read together for at least half an hour every night and we’re starting to get in to more advanced picture books now that Zee is at an age where she can concentrate and take in a longer story. Our house is filled to the brim with kids books (and all kinds of books, actually) but that is one of the advantages of having had a career in the book industry! Great interview with Louise, she is actually coming to Punky’s school next week to speak to the kids!

  3. I am so sad about the book ownership statistics. I alone own a ton of children’s picture books, because I adore them and can’t leave them in the store. Imagine my excitement to discover I can now claim them on my tax as a work expense!!! This is something I hope to inspire in my students – the delight of “escaping to everywhere” through the portal of a book. The trick is to find things the kids will love to read on their own.

    • I was too Tracy, but hopefully these children are making good use of the library instead. My children own SO many books … I don’t believe you can ever have too many books! What a bonus for you to be able to claim them as a tax expense … not that I really need an excuse to buy books I love them so much haha

  4. 18 books? That’s it? Wow. We read three books each night, and have done since birth. It’s part of our bedtime routine. I often read an extra book or two during the day too. #teamIBOT

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