Six top tips for encouraging children to read
Published on: 21 November 2023
Authors Katie and Kevin Tsang suggest pointers on overcoming barriers to reading.
Kevin and Katie Tsang and the cover of Dragon Force: Infinity's Secret
At BookTrust we know that, sadly, many children say they don’t enjoy reading by themselves. We asked Katie and Kevin Tsang for their top tips on how to get children keen to open a book.
We are passionate about creating readers and encouraging young people to read. We believe that anyone can be turned into a reader – it is all a matter of finding the right book.
As writers for young people, we have so much competition for attention span and audience! Video games, YouTube, television shows, movies, and more. This is why we try to make our books as engaging, exciting, and action-packed as possible so they are just as enticing as any other entertainment available to young people. And when we do school events, we always remind the students that there are lots of different ways to engage in stories. Movies, TV shows, and even video games are all based on stories – but as authors, our favourite way to engage in stories is through books and reading. And, as BookTrust research shows, the benefits of reading for pleasure are numerous and long-lasting.
1. Stories are everywhere!
A great way to encourage more reluctant or resistant readers is to remind them that stories are all around us. And the more they read, the more they will enjoy and appreciate stories in other formats as well.
2. Don't stop reading aloud
There is also no upper age-limit on reading aloud as a family. Reading out loud to children, even ones who are older, is a wonderful way to bond as a family and encourage interest in stories. While many parents and carers will have read picture books aloud to young children, don’t forget about chapter books as children grow. Chapter books are great to read out loud, and all the better if they inspire a child to continue reading the book on their own after a parent has given them a starter-push.
3. Read the same books as your children
Or parents and carers can read the same books as their children so they can ask them questions and engage in the world along with their children. We love when we hear from whole families who have read the Dragon Realm books together. And parents often tell us that they love being able to share an interest with their children, and they can talk about everything from cliff hangers to theories about plot points to who their favourite dragon is. Another option is to have dedicated family reading time where everyone reads their own books, and then shares what they are reading. Modelling reading habits for children is an important way to show that reading can be part of every day.
4. Take an active interest in what they're reading
Children are also of course hugely influenced by their peers– and as authors, nothing quite beats the thrill of hearing from a young reader that one of their friends recommended our books. Asking children what they are reading, and truly being interested in the answer, is a fantastic way to instil pride in their own reading ability, and make them feel like their opinions are valid and respected.
5. Let children choose the books they read
Giving children choice in what they read is also key. Provide the opportunity to choose their own books at the library or bookstore – and let them follow their own interests. Fantasy, non-fiction, sports books, graphic novels, spy thrillers – whatever they are interested in and want to read should be encouraged. And if a child wants to reread the same thing over and over again, as a comfort read or something that is familiar to them, that works too!
If possible, reading shouldn’t be a chore for a child, but something that they are excited about and look forward to. Whether that is shared family time, or time for just them and their books, there are lots of ways to encourage and prioritise reading.
6. Audiobooks are books too!
Audiobooks are another wonderful way to engage with stories– you can listen to them as a family in the car or in the kitchen, or you can allow your child to listen on their own in their room or with headphones. Audiobooks can be rented at the library as well.
We love writing for young people because we love writing exciting, engaging stories that we hope inspire them and ignite their imaginations. When we write our children’s books, we never forget who our intended audience is, and hope that the result is books that can entice any reader, even more reluctant ones, to join us on a dragon-filled adventure, and maybe even encourage them to continue their reading journey after they’ve read the last page.
Dragon Force: Infinity’s Secret, written by Katie and Kevin Tsang, is out now.
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