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A Message to Parents
Over the years I have listened to numerous parents express their concerns that their children read less and less as they get older. We have a fantastic range of resources available in our libraries and would love them to be used extensively. Although I am often asked for advice about how parents can encourage children to read, I offer it with caution and the full awareness that all children respond differently to motivational strategies. It is with this in mind that I very tentatively make the suggestions below about fun based library and reading activities.
There are numerous websites full of suggestions of exciting reading based activities that your children can complete. The sites below all offer relevant and interesting tasks. The internet is central to our lives and a good starting point when choosing library activities is to actually search for them on the web with your child. The sense of shared ownership this creates acts as a great motivator and enables your child to improve their research skills.
Reading, even if just for a few minutes a day with your children, will help instil in them a love of stories and is I think the single most useful and enjoyable activity you can do with your child. Asking a range of questions starting with simple closed questions which then lead to more challenging ‘why’ questions will help your child comprehend the text and interpret and evaluate the message in it. It is also great fun to complete follow on activities such as, what happens next; write the next chapter, or make a storyboard. Your child’s teacher can give specific guidance of what is appropriate if you are unsure of your child’s ability. There is a danger though that the outcome can become more important than the actual reading so I tend to let children lead the way in completing follow on activities.
A great listening activity that your child can complete is to choose an audio version of a storybook and read along to it as it is played . There is a great range of listening stories in both our Primary and Secondary libraries. I find them superb on long car journeys and the whole family can get involved in the discussion about the books. E-books are slowly more readily available and, in the short term at least, the option of reading a book from an electronic device can also be a great motivator. I find it is quite easy to re-direct childrens’ computer usage to worthwhile learning sites (we have lots of suggestions of appropriate sites on our Link and Learn Pages). If your child has enjoyed a particular topic at school with a little encouragement they may enjoy completing extra research. Quite often children are completing a huge amount of non-fiction reading without even realising it and love sharing their findings with other.
Physically spending time in the library with your child and perusing the shelves together is also a great way to encourage them to be frequent visitors to it. I run a reading ECA on Thursdays after school based in the Primary Library and always welcome new members. It will not only provide the opportunity for quiet reading, we will be able to guide book choices, and your children will be able to discuss books with their peers and like minded readers. If you and your child are in school, perhaps waiting for siblings, do use the library as a space to read with your child. Modelling reading really does work wonders.
Over the term we will be putting together a detailed list of quick and easy reading activities. We are keen to have real activities for real people. Rather than simply create a long list of website links we think it would be much more useful if you share your reading activity ideas with us. Please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head of Libraries