Classics and newbies - your recommendations

Classics and newbies – your recommendations

Prying small fingers off technical devices of any description is a modern mother’s daily challenge. Given the choice between a book and an iPad, most children will gleefully reach for the latter.

Thank you for your tips on how you encourage your kids to read which I have copied below.  In an effort to up the reading quota in my house, we recently introduced a competition between myself and the kids. We have a monthly reading challenge and the winner gets a visit to the bookstore to choose their tome of choice. The most important part of this challenge is that we have to tell each other about the book we have just read –  just to be sure no-one is skimming pages! Well it’s working – for all of us! I have read five books this month which is a miracle post my own reading-drought. My super-competitive son has read eight so it looks like it will be his treat for June – which I couldn’t be more thrilled about.

Here are some tips to encourage small readers –

  • For boys who just don’t want to read, check out It has boy’s own categories like How to Build Stuff, Outer Space, but with Aliens and At Least One Explosion, all areas of interest guaranteed to get them interested.
  • Remember it is our job, not the teachers, to encourage our children to read.
  • Keep books easily accessible. An easy-to-reach bookcase at eye-level in their bedrooms and in the main living area of the house means they will always be faced with books!
  • Let them read comics and fluffy books every now and then. Sometimes it is all they feel like, just as we sometimes feel the need for chick lit. Hey at least their reading!
  • To ensure they are properly absorbing what they are reading, ask for regular story-updates and what they think may happen next.
  • If you are stumped as to what their next book should be, check in with their teacher. She should know exactly what your child should be reading.
  • Rather than rewarding good behaviour with a sweet or packet of chips, buy them a book and get the store to gift wrap it with a big flourish of ribbon. The excitement of a present will hopefully override the fact that it isn’t edible!
  • Make a trip to the bookstore a fun outing and join them up at the local library. Stashing their very own library card in their purse makes them feel super-important!

Here are your secret strategies…

“I might be a mean mum but I just don’t give them the option to use anything with a screen unless it’s for homework or as research to look up something that they want to find out. So if they’re bored, they have to play or read or draw.  I also still read aloud to all of my kids (even though 2 of them can read by themselves) and will continue to do so for as long as possible – lots of people say that if you make reading aloud part of the routine and do it every day, even older kids of around 12 will still be happy to be read to because it is a different way of experiencing a book. Maybe sometimes we assume that because they can read themselves, they don’t want to be read to, but I don’t think that’s the case.  I also think having a variety of books is great – we go to the library once a fortnight. I always get my seven year old to think of something she’d like to know more about, then she uses the computer at the library to look up the subject and locate the books on the shelves. This way her inquisitive mind is satisfied by using non-fiction books to give her info about things she wants to know, and she chooses some fiction books too. I like the independence of the library – they can choose so they are more likely to read the book, or they can ask for a suggestion from you if they want help.”   Natasha, Perth

“My sons started out reading comics and when they were very little we always handed them a book in the car. They loved going to the bookstore at an early age and the library. Always sign up for the Summer reading programs and we made a weekly trip to the library part of our Summers. I also think reading at night before bed is a wonderful way to let them feel like they are staying up later. Even our teenager has a screens after 9 p.m.- reading only. You have to limit screens from an early age, otherwise it’s very hard.  Reading together at night is also wonderful. The whole family took turns reading Harry Potter, Rascal by Sterling North and even The Little House book series even though it’s all boys here. Now we are reading Roald Dahl with the younger one and it’s great! It helps if you read as well.  Looking forward to more fun posts on your lovely blog!”    Kim, Connecticut

“We love Graeme Base in our household… the books work well with young children right through to older ones as there is so much complexity in his illustrations as well as the mystery that has kept my children (and even me!) peering at his work time and again.”    Anita, Perth

“Introduce boredom. No, you can’t have the DS. No, you can’t watch TV. No, you can’t play games on my phone. No, you can’t nag me. Yes, you can go read a book. And offer good books. Good books never fail in my house.”  Brenda, New England

“Fortunately, the PS2 broke and we cant afford IPADs and Tablets or PSPs, so he reads, and when he gets tired re-reading his books, he reads the Bible :) ”  thevanillahousewife

“We are a no-tv house all week so there is only one option for mine every night…read a book in bed or go to straight to sleep. I also encourage books that come in a series as my girls love to “collect” so books fall into this obsession. Am finding books hard to find for my pre-teen, am going back to classics like Mary Poppins, The Secret Garden, Little Women and of course she wants to read Gatsby. I have a pile of my old Sweet Valley High books (!!) but not sure if I’m ready for her to read those yet!!!  Roald Dahl always amuses, and Tiffiny Hall’s White Ninja is a surprise hit.”    Amanda, Perth