Sunday, 22 July 2012

A little light summer reading

The summer holidays are now upon us and so,thankfully, is the sunshine. At last!

My aim for the summer holidays is to give my boys time to relax, to play with their friends and to be themselves again. However, if you have children like mine you will know that this doesn't happen naturally but needs a little encouragement and structure.

My first goal is to get them reading again. "Reading?!" I hear you cry! Yes, reading. They have spent the academic year reading books because they have to. I want them to read because they choose to do it. I want them to know the absolute bliss of being pulled into a story that comes alive in their imaginations. School reading books occasionally do this, but mostly it is seen as a chore. Teachers teach them how to read. I teach them how to love reading.

It is a commonly held myth that boys don't like reading. It's true that many boys prefer information and factual books to fiction. I, however, just see this as a challenge to be overcome. So, we've had our first library visit of the summer holidays and now my goal for the summer is to see them taken away to the secret world of their books.

Here are my tips for encouraging boys to read...

Model it. This is more important than anything else. If they see us enjoying our books, they are more likely to follow. And it makes an enormous difference if they see their Dad reading too. Seeing mum reading is great, but seeing Dad reading gives off the vibes that reading is a man's activity. We have done this for the last few years and although Jared began reading in front of them for their benefit, he has actually also discovered a love of reading himself.

When they are too young to read interesting books themselves, read the books to them. We have spent whole summers reading Roald Dahl books with them. Just one chapter every night. The twinkling light of imagination in their eyes as you read to them is absolutely priceless.

Read with them. Take it in turns to read a page each until they are gripped by the story and can carry on themselves.

Give them some quiet time every day to read. We all sit down and read at the same time. It is quiet so they can concentrate. It isn't a chore because we are all doing it. It is accepted as the norm.

When they are older, talk to them about the books they are reading. Ask questions and show interest. Talk about how it feels to be transported away into the world of a book.

If they are motivated by rewards, then give them rewards for reading. My boys have never really been interested rewards for reading but I know it has worked for some.

Take them to the library and let them choose their own books under your careful guidance. Push them slightly so that they don't become stuck in a rut of reading books that are too easy for them. Encourage them to try different authors. Allow them to have some control over what they read. There are some fantastic books out there for boys.

All of this is our responsibility and the summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to give time to it. I am still right in the middle of all this with my boys, and eventually I hope to have three boys who love reading as much as I do. I won't ever accept that they don't like reading just because they are boys. It's a myth which I intend to turn into a lie.

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