The benefits of children reading are wide-ranging: it helps with cognitive development, imagination and concentration, and improves vocabulary and language.
International Children’s Book Day is a celebration of children’s literature – held around the 2nd of April every year, the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen – which aims to inspire a love of books and reading in children.
There are lots of ways to encourage your children to read for pleasure, all through the year, and it can start before they even learn to read the words on the page.
We all know reading a bedtime story to our little ones helps them to wind down at the end of the day, and recognise it’s nearly time for sleep. If your children are learning to read, helping them practise their words and sounds by reading together can go a long way.
If your kids are a bit older, encourage them to read a few chapters of a book before bedtime, helping them reduce screentime before bed and drift off to sleep.
Picture and interactive books
There are plenty of books available for children way before they’re able to read – or even talk! Having access to colourful picture books where you identify animals and objects can be hugely important – these books are often interactive with different sounds and textures, all helping with early cognitive and speech development.
Sometimes children struggle with reading, particularly those with dyslexia, so some might need a little more encouragement and extra help than others. But don’t worry – it certainly doesn’t mean they have any less imagination or creativity.
They might want to raid the fancy dress box and dress up as their favourite characters instead. This way they can still feel part of a story, even if they struggle to read it.
If your children love arts and crafts, you could make bookmarks together, so you all have one ready for reading time. They can add their name to it or draw their favourite character. You could also get them to design their own book cover to their favourite story.
Going on a long journey over Easter? Try downloading some audiobooks for your children. Audiobooks are a fantastic way of enjoying stories when you’re on the go, and are easy to download onto a tablet or device. If you have more than one child, don’t forget the headphones too – then they can listen individually to whatever they want while you travel.
Join your local library
Making sure children have access to a wide selection of books is an important part of getting them interested in reading. Books can be expensive to buy, which is why local libraries are a wonderful way for children to pick them up for free – even audiobooks too!
Libraries give children access to a wide range of stories, authors and genres – and if they don’t like a book, they can simply take it back and take out another one.
Keep an eye out for charity shops and jumble sales too, which are great places to buy books for a few pounds. You can even donate them back once you’ve finished, so other children can enjoy them for less in the future.
The possibilities are endless
Not sure where to start with children’s books? Go back to your own childhood and try and remember the ones you enjoyed. Whether your children are just learning to read, or are at the age where they’re actively reading for pleasure, there are so many timeless children’s stories out there just waiting to be discovered.