Helping children to enjoy reading

Adrian Dawe
30 March, 2017 : 16:03
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My background

Despite having teachers for parents, I fell out of love with reading as a child. I went all the way through university before being diagnosed with dyslexia. Fortunately, it’s fairly mild, but understanding why I was struggling with reading invigorated me, enabling me to discover the joy and importance of books as an adult.

Identifying the need

As the father of a one-year old son, Freddie, I don’t want him to have the same narrowed opportunities I did. I want him to embrace books and reading from the get-go, and develop a lifelong passion from an early age.

Sadly, current trends are against him. Research shows:

  • 1/4 children cannot read well by the time they leave primary school (Save the Children)
  • Only 40% of England’s ten year olds have a positive attitude to reading (The Reading Agency)
  • 32% of children cannot find books to read which interest them (National Literacy Trust).

This evidence is even more alarming when you consider...

  • Reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parent’s level of education (Institute of Education)
  • Over 350 local libraries have closed in the past few years, something that is set to double if action is not taken (Chartered Institute of Librarians)
  • Funding for school libraries has decreased year on year
  • The Reading Agency evidence shows only 1/5 parents has the time to read to their children
  • Many parents don't know what to choose when overwhelmed by vast shelves of children’s books in shops.

Why be optimistic?

Despite the negative statistics about children’s literacy and engagement with books, there are reasons to be hopeful.

  • Over 80% of children want their favourite stories in printed form
  • Children’s book sales have been rising year on year
  • Great new Brands like Lost My Name have emerged (a personalised service which starts online but ends with a physical book in the hands of a child).

Take heart: the evidence is there that shows children still love reading and discovering new books.

My top tips for reading with young children I've picked up from my time with Frederick

  • Have stacks of books of all shapes, sizes and textures within arm’s reach. Frederick loves to pull them out (and throw them on the floor)
  • Minimise screen time for yourself; maximise the time your child sees you reading
  • Incorporate reading into your daily routine. We spread books out on the bed at night and Frederick picks the ones he wants to read. (We get about a page in before he picks another, but that's fine!)
  • Hold the next page out. If they’re anything like Frederick they’ll love turning the pages
  • Keep a variety of books by the bathtub. When Frederick has a favourite we make sure it's readily available
  • Charity shops are a great source of affordable children’s books. Patience and diligence are needed to unearth books of interest. Some days there will be nothing: the next day you could find five in good condition! Take your child along to let them pick the ones they’d like.

Bookabees

I set up Bookabees as a personal mission to counter head-on the alarming trends highlighted above. It works by finding recommendations to fit your child’s profile and interests. Books are delivered directly to your door in a monthly pack, which can be returned to us or purchased at a reduced price.

I truly believe that if Bookabees had been around when I was a child I wouldn't have given up on reading like I did. I want Frederick to have every opportunity in life, all the evidence shows that the best gift I can give him is to help him become a proficient and passionate reader.

How do you read with your child or help them choose books? Comment below, like and share via social media. Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.

Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.


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Adrian Dawe
The son of two teachers, the husband of another and the father of one-year old, Frederick. He also happens to be the founder/ CEO of Bookabees. Something that has become a labour of love for him; a passion for nurturing children’s enjoyment of and accessibility to reading.

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