It's always Time to Read

Published on: 27 September 2016 Author: Cressida Cowell

The incomparable author and illustrator Cressida Cowell, creator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once universes, became our fourteenth Writer in Residence back in 2016. In this blog Cressida talked about how important it has been for to continue reading together with her children beyond the age that they can read for themselves.

Cressida Cowell

Recent research shows that an average of 86 per cent of parents with a child age 5 read with them every day or every other day, but that this falls to 38 per cent of parents of 11 year-olds.

As a parent myself, I absolutely understand why this is: life is busy and it's stressful trying to fit in all the things that you are 'supposed' to do, particularly at the end of a long day, when your energy is low, and the kid in question is begging for 'just five more minutes watching telly/playing Minecraft'.

So my biggest tip is - start with achievable goals. Just ten minutes of reading aloud with your kid a day can make a huge difference to so many parts of your family life. There's an academic benefit (and not just in English - all subjects) but proven gains in other areas too - mental health, emotional wellbeing and your relationship with your child, all of which are positively impacted by reading together for just ten minutes.

Go with what your child likes - if you end up reading the same book about dinosaurs, but it's something that your kid enjoys, then so be it. However, if you can find something you both really love, that's even better, because if the book makes you laugh, or cry or thoughtful that sends a strong message to the kid that books are important, books matter, books have the power to move and inspire even the adults. And you will be sharing an emotional experience together that they will remember forever.

Because never forget that although children sometimes seem not to be listening, 'and seldom offer thanks', to quote Garrison Keillor, nothing you do for children is ever wasted, and books read to you in your parent's voice live with you all your life.

You'll see in some of my next blog posts that I'm going to be talking about reading with your children when they're older, how to deal with school reading when you are stressed, and some recommendations for older children.

Good luck!

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more