Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Time to Read

Children can benefit from reading in so many ways and there is no fixed way to do it! Reading as a family can be done anytime, anywhere with anyone.

We're giving a Time to Read pack to every Reception child in England and every Primary One child in Northern Ireland. Inside each pack is a copy of The Runaway Pea, a hilarious story that we know will spark every child's imagination. Packs will be distributed via schools and libraries from September 2020.

Runaway Pea

Everything you need to know about Time to Read

  • How can I get my child’s book pack this year?

    We aim to distribute these packs via schools and libraries during the Autumn term. 

  • Will book packs be sent to schools this year?

    Books will be delivered to schools from September 2020. Our aftercare support will be available from September to December to help schools order any additional books if needed.

  • Why is reading important?

    At BookTrust we know that there are many benefits to reading. It can increase children's fascination with the world around them. It can also help children learn to deal with change and make friends as they see how characters in books respond to their own challenges and relationships.

    Reading can be started at any age and it's never too late to begin. It can improve a child's listening and language skills, and it can also be a relaxing activity, helping children to settle into new routines as they start school.

  • How do we know children are reading less?

    Several pieces of research suggest that a growing number of children do not read for pleasure. International studies run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) show that the percentage of children who report reading for enjoyment daily is dropping and that there is a decline in attitudes towards reading among children.

    Through research conducted by Egmont, our official publisher research partner, we also know that as children reach primary school age and other activities such as social media, gaming and the internet take precedence, the frequency at which children are read to by parents/carers drops significantly.

    Not long after this, children's independent reading also decreases. In a recent BookTrust parent survey, we found that, on average, parents read with their children only once every four days - and almost one in five parents read with their child once a week or less.

  • Why are families reading less these days?

    There is no one answer for this and the results of one of our recent parent surveys shows that there are many reasons why parents might stop reading with their children as they grow older.

    Time and busy schedules are big factors, but the greatest number of parents (40%) that we surveyed said that they had abandoned shared reading time as their child had learned to read and started reading alone.

    More on our research

  • Surely it's better to let independent readers read by themselves?

    We don't think that it's an either/or situation when it comes to reading. While it's important that your child develops the confidence and enthusiasm to read independently, they may struggle to do this without your support - just as a learner driver needs encouragement, so young readers really benefit from reading with adults.

    Having to decode longer words can disrupt the "flow" of reading, making it feel much harder than watching a film or playing a game. By reading with your independent reader, you can remind them how great it is to get lost in a story. You can also build their confidence in reading, perhaps reading one page each. It's also a great opportunity to explore the themes of a book, checking their understanding, and even reassuring them if the book gets scary!

    By reading with your child, you're showing them that reading is something you enjoy and value, and it's a wonderful way to bond and create lasting memories and a shared language.

  • My child hates reading. What can I do to encourage him/her?

    Reading can be daunting for some children but reading together can help with this. There's no wrong way to read a book, you can tell your own story with the pictures or take turns pretending to be the characters in the book. Setting up a quiet reading space can also make the experience more relaxing.

    Letting your child pick out their own book can also help, you could ask them questions about their choices to engage them in storytime. There are lots of different ways to experience reading, it can be done anywhere, anytime with anyone. If your child isn't engaging with a physical book you could try listening to an online video or audio reading together. We'll be sharing videos of readings online from 19-25 October.

  • What is shared reading?

    Shared reading is a practice - the practice of reading to and reading with each other, and talking about books, stories and rhymes.

    Check out our tips on reading with your child

  • My child never listens when I read him/her a story. Is there any point continuing?

    Absolutely! Reading together, even for a short period of time, is a great way to spend time with your child and it can help you feel closer to them.

    If your child isn't engaged, you could try actively involving them in the story, discussing elements of the plot as you go along and encouraging them to read passages to you, too.

    Reading doesn't have to always be part of the calming evening routine - if your child is struggling to remain interested, appeal to their sense of humour with funny books or magazines. Humour is one of the best ways to hook in reluctant readers. And remember that children may be listening even when they look like they're doing something else.

    Reading enjoyment is so much about finding the right book for you, so try something new if your latest choices haven't grabbed them. You can find lots of suggestions on this website, or try visiting the local library with your child and let them pick what they want to read with you next.

  • How can I make shared reading more fun?

    Appealing to your child's sense of humour and adventure, choosing funny or exciting stories and making the reading a performance can bring more excitement to reading.

    You can talk to your child about the story as you read, and use it as a starting point for wider discussions about all sorts of things. You can also take the story off the page by completing drawing activities or acting out your own endings to a story.

  • Are audio books the same as shared reading?

    Audio books can be a great way to engage children in stories. If your child isn’t engaging with a physical book this could be a great new twist on a reading experience.

    However, reading together with a book can involve more than simply telling a story - being together, talking about the story, asking each other questions about pictures in the story and so on. This element of reading together can help you and your child feel closer and can help your child relate to the story a little better.

  • Do I need to read a book or can we use a reading app instead?

    While there are many benefits to using e-readers, studies suggest that screen media can restrict parent-child dialogue and children can easily become more focused on the technological aspects and mechanics of the phone or tablet than the story's plot.

    Some research also indicates that the light from digital screens can negatively impact sleep as the light disrupts melatonin secretion, so physical books might be best around bedtime.

  • How can I read my children a story when they're all such different ages?

    Older children will often enjoy the responsibility of helping you read stories to their younger siblings. It is a great opportunity to make shared reading a whole family activity.

    Choosing visually stimulating books is a good way to engage different-aged readers because it allows them to interpret the story in their own way, using the text as much or as little as suits them. If you want to read to your children individually, then do go ahead. Valuable shared reading time can be as little as ten minutes a day - easy to fit in around your family's schedule.

  • We read every night - or rather, we read my child's phonics/literacy homework with him/her. Do we really need to do more?

    Phonics and literacy are really important parts of a child's education but reading together outside of schoolwork can also benefit your child. Taking time to read stories can help you feel closer to your child, it can help spark their imagination and give them time to relax. Once children find reading an enjoyable experience they’re also more likely to continue their reading journey into their adult lives.

    While homework may be perceived by your child as a chore, reading together can be seen as a fun activity that you both enjoy doing together.

  • I'm a busy parent/carer, how do I find the time to read to my child?

    Reading is something you can do anytime, anywhere - whether it's on the bus to school, waiting at the dentist or while dinner is cooking. You could try incorporating reading into different parts of the day. It doesn't always have to be part of a night-time routine.

    Reading as often as you can can be a chance to bond as a family and an opportunity to unwind and settle your children after a busy day.

  • My children don't enjoy the books I read as a child. Where can I find recommendations for new books?

    If you've not quite found the right book for your child yet, take a look at our Bookfinder. We have recommendations for every age and interest and we review the best new children's books to make finding something to read as easy as possible for you.

    You'll also find lots of great books to choose from at your local library, and your librarian will be able to help point you and your child in the right direction.

Time to Read

Time sharing stories is time well spent. We want parents and carers to keep reading to their child, even once they've reached primary school or started to read on their own.

If you read books together, it's a great way to bond, talk about the day, and have a lot of fun!

Find out more