Bring happiness with books!

Published on: 03 September 2015 Author: Kate Hancock

Children's book expert and mum-of-one, Kate Hancock, shares some tips to help you encourage reading for pleasure.

Bring happiness with books!

Since becoming a parent, I've become aware of the large number of articles about helping children be happy and fulfilled; I've (unsurprisingly) been particularly interested in pieces about the emotional benefits of reading for pleasure.

As a life-long lover of books I'm very aware of the power of reading; a good book can help you relax, allow you to escape into another world for a while and help to make even the most arduous of journeys or waits a real pleasure, whatever your age.

Children today often have a huge amount going on; friends, family, school, hobbies, TV, social media and online games can all play an important role and in some cases books and reading can be forgotten or viewed as an activity solely for school or nursery hours.

Reading for pleasure can have wide-ranging emotional benefits for children (and adults), as well as helping vocabulary, communication, concentration and imagination. With all the other things children have in their lives it can be a challenge to encourage them to read and enjoy books outside of the classroom or playgroup, especially if they struggle with reading.

Over the 15 years I've worked with children's books (as well as a lifetime of reading for enjoyment) I have encountered lots of different tips to help children of any age discover or re-discover the pleasure of reading. If you want to help a child realise what a wonderful thing reading can be here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Think about what your child already enjoys. If they like animals, exploring, finding out about the human body, computer games or any other topic then try to find books with these as a theme. Your child's school, local bookshop or library should all be able to recommend books that will appeal to your child's interests and hobbies... or try the our Bookfinder!
  • Explore alternatives to fiction. Lots of children don't like 'made-up' stories. There are some fantastic non-fiction books available for all ages, like the ever-popular 'Horrible Histories' series, with lots of fascinating and sometimes disgusting facts that your child will love to share with you. Joke books can also be a big hit, children love making themselves and others laugh. For younger children choosing books that feature a favourite TV or film character can be a great introduction to the joys of reading.
  • Picture books aren't just for pre-schoolers. Lots of children of all ages (and adults – I've always loved picture books!) really enjoy looking at illustrations when reading. There are some wonderful picture books available that have some quite sophisticated themes, such as William Grill's stunning Shackleton's Journey, so don't think your child should have moved on from enjoying picture books. The rhyming text in picture books by authors like Julia Donaldson and Dr. Seuss can be huge fun to read aloud and really build confidence in new readers.
  • Consider comic-strip books. If picture books no longer appeal but your child loves artwork then classics like Tintin or Asterix series are ideal. Graphic novels and Manga titles might also be good to try although do check the content as some have some very adult themes.
  • Above all, get involved! Reading shouldn't just be a solo activity and can be enjoyed with family members and friends. Choose a book together, then take it in turns to read to each other and talk about what you have read or what might happen next.

Reading for pleasure can be a wonderful and enriching activity, whatever your age. Helping children realise the vast potential for enjoyment in books is something that everyone can be involved with and can have lasting, positive effects for us all.

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