8 Ways You Might Be Discouraging Your Child from Reading

how parents discourage reading

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We don’t intentionally discourage our children from reading. But sometimes we can make small yet frequent mistakes that deter our budding young readers over time.

Here are some common ways parents can discourage their child from reading, and what you can try to do instead.

1. Not providing reading material at home

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” — Dr. Seuss

A love of reading begins with great books – a lot of them! Make sure your house is stocked up with age-appropriate books and reading material, including comic books and kids magazines. Provide a variety of reading material around the house and in your child’s bedroom. Early readers can also benefit from having posters on the wall that include a lot of text (e.g. animal charts, nursery rhymes and songs). If your child owns a tablet device, look for reading apps and e-books that will give their other games a run for their money.

For long car trips and family holidays, always pack books and reading material.

Give your child their own bookshelves at home, and if they’ve finished all their books, you can always find more at the local library.

2. Using reading time as a bargaining chip…

Sure it may be tempting, but using reading time as a bargaining tool is something that parents should try to avoid. It’s never a good idea to associate reading with any other incentive than pure enjoyment or learning about new things. If your child is a reluctant reader, saying things like, ‘If you do your reading you can watch TV’ or, ‘Just ten minutes of reading and you can have dessert’ are not going to yield real long-term results.

Instead of bargaining, encourage your child to see the intrinsic rewards of reading by saying things like, ‘Wow, you finished your book today! Which was the best part?’ or, ‘I remember reading that book in school, and I still love it today!’ 

3. Or using it as a threat

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo

The one thing that could be worse than bribing your child to read is using it as part of punishment. Have you ever heard yourself say something like, ‘You didn’t do your reading so you don’t get to watch TV’? We’ve almost all been there.

Using reading time as punishment can leave your child filled with dread at the very thought of it. Read more about the value of positive reinforcement.

4. Not letting them choose their own books

If your child is at school, chances are they have a set reading list, and there may not be very much you can do about it. So when it comes to reading books outside of school, it’s important to let your child choose the ones they really want.

Visit the library and let your child pick out the books they want to read. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions and guiding your child’s decision – we all hope our children will love the same books we loved as children. But ultimately, if they’re reluctant about a book from the get-go, they’re not very likely to warm up to it anytime soon.

5. Being a non-reader yourself

Can’t remember the last time you picked up a book? Finding time to read can become a great challenge in our adult years, especially when raising a family. But if your child doesn’t see you or anybody else in the house enjoying a good book, eventually they’ll struggle to see the value in doing it for themselves. Let your child see you indulge in a good read now and then – children watch (and often copy) our every move.

6. Choosing books that are too easy or too hard

If your child finds a book too easy or too ‘babyish’, they’ll quickly grow bored with it. On the other hand, if the book is too challenging and contains too many words they don’t know, it’s likely to cause immense frustration, which can put them off reading altogether.

A good way to determine if a book is just right for your child is by using the Five Finger Rule. If the book has a few difficult words, try reading aloud together. There’s nothing wrong with exposing children to more complex language in context. But if you know the language and concepts will be too difficult for them to enjoy the story, set it aside for another time.

7. Over-correcting their mistakes

This one is tricky. While it’s important to show your child where they’ve gone wrong, being overly critical can be extremely discouraging.

Reading should be a fun and enjoyable experience. It’s important to prove this to your child. Forcing them to read and reread text until they have it perfect can be very discouraging to an emerging reader. Try to avoid interrupting while they are reading and wait for a natural pause to point out any mistakes if you need to. If you want to help your child work on their reading fluency, try texts that are fun to re-read over and over again, such as fun rhymes and poetry, which also give reluctant readers a great sense of accomplishment.

8. Forgetting to read with your child regularly

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

Even if your child is old enough to read on their own, reading together can still have a lot of value. Take turns reading aloud and create positive reading memories together. Talk about the story, the characters and the pictures, and ask your child questions about how they feel or think about the book. Setting a regular reading time with your child is one of the best ways to set them up for a lifetime love of reading.

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The Awesome Benefits of Comic Books for Children

benefits comic books for kids

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun. Start your child’s reading journey with a special free trial offer today.

For a long while comic books have gotten a pretty bad rap. They were the sneaky distraction that schoolchildren disguised inside the pages of ‘real books’. People saw them as a more simplified version of reading; something that couldn’t offer the same complexity or developmental benefits that ‘serious books’ could.

But now parents and educators are beginning to see the hidden benefits of the humble comic book (or graphic novel). Professor Carol Tilley from the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois says, “A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words.

“Some kids, yes. But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words.”

Here are just some of the awesome benefits of reading comic books:

1. They turn reluctant readers into ravenous readers.

One of the best and most obvious benefits of comic books is that they can be more fun and easier to read than regular books. This can be extremely appealing to young children who would otherwise have little interest in reading traditional forms of books. Many children who think they hate reading respond particularly well to comic books that are based on movies or television shows they enjoy, such as Scooby-Doo and Astro Boy.

2. They give struggling readers confidence.

Comic books don’t intimidate struggling readers with an overwhelming page of text. They usually offer short and easy-to-read sentences, alongside other visual and text cues (e.g. character sighs, door slams etc.) for context. They’re also helpful for children with learning difficulties; children with autism can learn a lot about identifying emotions through the images in a comic book. Children with dyslexia, who may find it frustrating to finish a page in a traditional book, often feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete a page in a comic book. And as many of us know, accomplishment plays a key role in building confident and fluent readers.

3. They increase your child’s inference.

Observation refers to seeing something happening. Inference refers to figuring out something based on evidence and reasoning. It’s an important component of successful comprehension and a valuable life skill for all young children to develop. Comic books can increase inference in young children by encouraging them to “read between the lines” and infer meaning from the images. Children who read comics often need to infer what is not written by the narrator, which is a complex reading strategy. Comic books also help children become familiar with sequencing and understanding succinct language.

4. They expand your child’s bank of words.

When many people think of comic books, they probably don’t take into account the repository of words used on every page, or the opportunity they offer to strengthen vocabulary skills. Comic books give children a unique opportunity to acquire new vocabulary in combination with context cues, that is, information from pictures or from other text cues to help children decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words.

5. They can be a valuable accompaniment for other learning disciplines.

Comic books that explore or touch on historical events, classic tales, wildlife, nature, positive relationships and more can provide a valuable supplement to other areas of learning. For example, if your child is learning about the ancient Egyptians, a comic book story set in ancient Egypt may use pictures to explain important period details, such as clothing, food, rituals, farming, construction, trade, commerce, and cultural and social traits. By taking in a combination of words and illustrations, many children obtain the big picture more easily and with more enthusiasm than they would from using textbooks alone.

6. There are many different comic book genres to suit all tastes.

Comic books aren’t just about superheros and villains. And they’re certainly not just for boys. Comic books and graphic novels are spread across many different genres, including comedy, drama, sci-fi and fantasy, and there is bound to be something to suit all tastes, ages and reading levels. There may even be something that you might like to get into yourself, or enjoy together with your child, snuggled up before bedtime!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters, exciting rewards and over 2000 e-books, start your child’s reading journey with a special free trial offer today.

Sharing Childhood Reading Memories with Your Children

introduce child to classic literature

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” — Garrison Keillor

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We all have those cherished books that made a big impression on us growing up. Many of us look back on them with the hopes to one day share them with our own children, and impart the same values we picked up from their pages.

Sharing your best-loved reading memories is a powerful way to bond with your child, inspire their love of literature from an early age, and create brand new reading memories together.

Here are some tips for sharing your personal literary treasures with your children.

Don’t expect the exact same response – No matter how dearly you hold onto your childhood classics, the truth is that times have changed, and so have children. Your child may simply not share the same passion for your highly prized children’s books, or it may not resonate with them in quite the same way.

If your child isn’t responding to your childhood classics, there’s no shame in not finishing the book. It’s possible that they are just not ready for the themes, language or context of the story. Nevertheless, a great read is still a great, especially if your treasured childhood books include classic literature, such as Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach, which brings us to our next point…

Choose quality literature (usually the classics) – Some of your childhood picks might include obscure titles that have stuck with you for a very specific reason. Maybe it was an old paperback you found with your parents at an old discount store, or a lesser known title that appealed to your particular tastes or unique sense of fun (e.g. gags, gore and grossness, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea!)

However, what makes a book a classic is its ability to tell a good story and present a deep understanding of human nature. Classic stories transmit timeless values, exhibit the beauty of language, and spark a sense of wonder and imagination. Books like The Secret Garden, Wind in the Willows and The Ugly Duckling promote universal values that have stood the test of time and continue to make compelling reads for young readers today. Choosing quality literature will increase the chances of your child sharing in the same joys and learnings as you did growing up. Read more tips on how to choose the perfect children’s books for your child.

Talk about the story as you go, and explain things if you need to – Stories from our childhood may use more unfamiliar words, language and themes than usual. Some of it may even be outdated. But this shouldn’t be a big problem. Explain the story as you go, and modify the language if you need to. Once you’re halfway through and your child is used to the style, it won’t be as necessary. If it’s a chapter book, read a chapter at a time, especially for children five and under – short sharp bursts will help them maintain interest. Read some helpful ways to make sure your child is reading for meaning.

Pausing every now and again to talk about the story is also a great way to check your child’s understanding and improve their comprehension skills. Talk to them about how much you enjoyed the book when you were a child, and relate it back to moments in your childhood. You can even show them the original versions if you have them. Don’t worry about going on tangents – the point of sharing these treasures with your child is to create positive reading experiences for them. By turning reading into a fun bonding experience, your child is likely to associate reading with positive memories – a helpful step in learning to read for pleasure.

If it didn’t scare you, it will probably be OK for your child too – A lot of parents worry that some of their best-loved children’s books are too dark. Think Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Lemony Snicket, and even some classic nursery rhymes like Rock-a-bye Baby and Jack and Jill.

Nobody knows your child as well as you do. If you think some of your classic children’s titles will keep them awake over the next few nights, definitely steer clear until they’re older. But generally children can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. Children’s author and teacher Kelly Barnhill summed it up brilliantly when she said, “[Kids] are darker and creepier and far more sinister than anything that you will find on display of a Barnes & Noble … In their imaginations, villains lurk under the stairs, assassins hide behind shower curtains, and tentacled monsters slurp along the basement floor.” If your classic stories appealed more to your sense of curiosity and adventure, rather than fear, chances are it will be the same for your child too.

Save some of the classics for grandparents – We know how much you’d like to share every single one of your childhood classics, but remember that grandparents can play a big role in building your child’s love of reading too. If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents in their life, encourage them to start their own reading traditions together. Have your child’s grandparents introduce special books that are only read when they’re together.

Read together, even if they can read independently – So your little one has already mastered the art of getting lost in a good book. But that doesn’t matter. If your child is already reading independently, it’s still great to set aside some special reading time together every now and then to bond and continue building positive reading experiences with them, even into adolescence if you’re one of the lucky ones. Do bedtime story nights for as long as your child welcomes it and after that, watch movies together based on your best-loved books, or enjoy audio books for long family road trips.

Some classics to get you started

  • The Velveteen Rabbit
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  • Cinderella
  • Hansel and Grethel
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Frog Prince
  • The Ancient Mariner
  • The Railway Children
  • The Snow Queen
  • The Stonecutter
  • The Travels of Tom Thumb
  • How the Leopard Got Its Spots
  • The Golden Goose

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10 Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting School

Get your child ready for kindergarten

It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious about sending your child off to big school; as a parent, you want to be absolutely certain that your little one is fully prepared to adapt to a classroom environment, make new friends, and be able to clearly communicate their needs to their teacher whenever they need help.

But when it comes to specific skills and knowledge, many parents are surprised by how much their child is expected to know before starting school. Research shows that children who are well-prepared for their first year of school have a much better chance of settling in and succeeding in school, giving them a significant head start for later years.

Your child’s school should be able to provide you with a list of things they will be expected to know before starting. Before you let go of that little hand and send your child off to big school, here are the ten most common things they should know to help them feel confident and ready for their biggest adventure yet.

1. Listen to and follow simple instructions

By the time they start school, most children should be able to listen to and follow two to three part instructions.

What you can do: Give your child daily tasks around the house, like putting away their toys or setting the table for breakfast in the morning. Use two-part instructions like, “Pick up your toys and put them in the box.” and three-part instructions like, “Put the spoons, cups and napkins onto the table.”

2. Communicate their needs

Children should be able to clearly communicate their needs, especially to their teacher.

What you can do: Encourage your child to speak in complete sentences of five to six words, such as “I would like some water, please.” or “I need help with this word.” Always encourage them to explain how they are feeling: “I am hungry.” “My leg hurts”. “I would like to play outside.”

3. Dress and feed themselves

Children should feel comfortable managing their own clothes (e.g. zippers and buttons). They should also know how to open a juice container and unwrap their own food. It’s also at this age that children learn how to tie their shoes, though some won’t get the hang of it until around age six.

what does my child need to know before kindergarten

What you can do: Help your child practise dressing themselves each morning until they can do it independently. This includes zipping pants, buttoning shirts, putting on socks and taking off gloves and jackets. Teach your child how to open food packaging and praise them for doing a “big boy” or “big girl” job.

4. Share toys with others and take turns

A big part of starting school is about getting along well with others, completing a task or project through teamwork, and treating others with respect.

What you can do: Play board games at home to help your child become familiar with taking turns. If you have more than one child, encourage them to work on projects and tasks together at home.

5. Understand and retell simple stories

In their first year of school, children should be able to listen to and understand five to ten minute stories. Most will be able to retell simple stories that they have heard, and some may even begin telling original stories.

What you can do: If you don’t have a regular reading routine at your house, it’s never too late to start. Numerous studies have found that children who are read to regularly at home will have a much better chance at succeeding in school overall. Encourage your child to retell stories you have read by drawing pictures, using puppets, and role-playing.

6. Match and sort objects

Children should be able to match and sort objects by simple attributes, such as shape, colour and function (e.g. food, clothes, things you can cook with).

fun maths games

What you can do: Use books, songs, and play guessing games that teach your child about opposites. This will help them understand that objects can be identified by their attributes. To help your child sort, you need at least two different types of objects. Start with fewer categories (sorting by two types) and gradually progress to three, four or more. Slowly demonstrate each sort before asking your child to have a go.

7. Identify basic patterns, shapes and colours

These foundational skills will help your child develop essential mathematical skills and knowledge.

What you can do: Help your child point out patterns when you’re out together (e.g. in clothing, along a footpath, in a picture) and turn it into a fun game. Hang up colour and shape charts at home and let your child experiment with watercolours, crayons, blocks and playdough or clay to get familiar with colours and shapes.

8. Identify some numbers and understand how numbers are used

By their first year of school, many children will know how to count to at least 30 and tell what number comes before or after a given number to 20.

What you can do: Help your child point out numbers on a regular basis, like on the television, in books, on a keypad or on a phone. There are also many children’s books and online games like Mathseeds that teach children to count. Show your child how numbers are used in everyday activities, like following a recipe, keeping score during a game, or counting, measuring and weighing objects.

9. Identify letters, and begin to understand that letters stand for the sounds heard in words

Most children who start school will know the letters in the alphabet, and begin to understand the correlation between sounds and letters. Some children will be able to spell and write the letters in their name. Children should be able to also identify words that rhyme, which is an indicator of phonemic awareness, one of the five key aspects of learning to read.

What you can do: Use alphabet charts that include uppercase and lowercase versions of each letter. Games like letter races, matching rhymes and phonics hop-scotch are all great ways to build your child’s understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds.

10. Begin to identify some sight words

Learning to identify and read sight words is crucial for young children to become fluent readers. Most children will be able to master a few sight words at the age of four (e.g. is, it, my, me, no, see, and we) and around 20 sight words by the end of their first year of school.

What you can do: The first 100 high-frequency sight words make up more than fifty per cent of primary level reading texts, so the sooner your child masters sight words, the more confidence they will have, and the faster they will progress towards reading fluently. Read three fun activities to learn sight words. While learning a handful of sight words before school is highly beneficial for developing early reading skills, parents shouldn’t be too worried if their child doesn’t grasp this until later.

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5 Ways to Create a Family Reading Tradition

family reading traditions

Reading together as a family is a great way to encourage your child’s literacy development, build closer bonds, and create beautiful lifelong memories. So whether it’s a regular weekend activity or an annual event that includes the grandparents, here are five ways you can establish a family reading tradition and start creating fond reading memories for you and your child.

1. Establish a dedicated reading area

It doesn’t have to be an entire room – you can establish a regular reading area in an armchair, on the living room sofa, or on top of a couple of beanbags huddled in a corner. Keep your reading area simple and functional, with a few shelves for books, comfortable seats and good lighting. A dedicated reading area for your family will make the reading experience feel comforting and familiar for your child.

2. Choose a regular reading time

Traditions are all about creating regular rituals to engage in again and again. The best way to create a family reading tradition is to do it around the same time, every time, whether it’s daily, weekly or even monthly. You might choose to read together on a family picnic every Sunday during the summer, or first thing in the morning on the first day of each month. Remember, one-on-one reading time should be more regular than those occasions where the whole family sits down to read.

3. Create a family book tree

A family book tree is the perfect way to encourage your family to read together and look forward to reading throughout the week. Take a large sheet of construction paper and cut out the shape of a tree, including some branches. Invite the whole family to decorate the tree with the words ‘My Family Book Tree’, and hang it up on a convenient wall near your usual reading area. As your family reads through different books, add a leaf for every book read.

4. Invite grandparents to create their own traditions

If your child is lucky enough to have grandparents in their life, encourage them to have their own reading traditions together. Have your child’s grandparents introduce special books that are only read when they’re together. Another great idea is to find books that are relevant to your grandparents’ lives. If your child’s grandparent was a gardener, help them find books about gardening, plants or flowers. This provides a great opportunity for bonding, and opens up conversations between your child and their grandparent.

5. Read family classics every holiday

Do you have any books that have become family classics? Choose a meaningful time each year to revisit your best-loved literary treasures with the whole family. Special books can be turned into annual reading traditions for birthdays, Christmases, Halloweens, or even saved as a special surprise for your child’s graduation day.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that children love. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters and exciting rewards, inspire your child’s love of reading with a free trial of Reading Eggs today.