3 tips for reluctant readers
Reading Expert Claire Montague-Fryer suggests ways to help your kid read.
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Technology has made it a little harder to convince children to read. Often children would rather play some video game or to play around with apps on our smartphones than crack a book.

We asked our reading expert a few questions to get help you get your child eager to be a reader.

1. Do children stick to reading more with the help of an adult or when they're left to it on their own?

It's important to let children "read" through a book on their own every now and again. This gives them a chance to remember the story as it was told when you read it together and create anticipation, or make up their own story.

They also need to look at pictures and make associations with their own world.

When a parent reads to or with a child you are trying your best, so there is a lot going on: you have your bright, interested face on, you are reading with lots of expression and most probably asking your child questions as well.

All of this is fantastic, and it's how you should read with your child, but it's equally important that children discover books and reading for pleasure on their own.

Let them page through the book at their own pace, and what works very well is to get a book you are currently reading and while you sit with your book, they can sit and "read" their's.

Reading together with your child is without a doubt one of the greatest joys, but if you really want to instil a love of reading for pleasure, do let your children explore books on their own too.

2. Is there a specific time of day (or schedule time e.g. before bedtime, after playtime) that is most effective to encourage reading?

I would say there is no specific time, but it would be better to read together when your child is settled, but not tired or sleepy.

That said, I think reading as part of the bedtime routing is perfect. Choose books about naughty animals that won't go to bed (but eventually do!) or gentle, nurturing, reassuring books with pastel colours and soft focus pictures.

These are great as the protagonist usually gets tucked up in bed afterwards and goes to sleep. This means you can say, "See, little rabbit has gone to sleep now and so must you".

If sleep is your goal, don't choose anything wildly exciting or stimulating with bright colours, or anything interactive with flaps or pop-ups. Books with text in a rolling rhythm format are also great for bedtime reads.

Remember, these are people with very little attention spans, so don't force them to finish the story, and don't choose books that are too long.

Rather finish a book and re-read it.

Never try and force reading time on a child who is clearly in a very active, playful state; if they want to climb the burglar bars after the cat he's not going to sit and concentrate on what Spot is doing.

Rather play something physical and then maybe suggest some reading time together. Again, that said, books can, however be used for distracting someone who is having a hissy fit ("OOOh!!! Look at what the Gruffalo has on his nose!") and as a form of comfort and nurture.

3. What kind of reading matter is suitable for preschoolers? Should they stick to Spot books or should they be encouraged to read anything, e.g. comic books and Fruit Loop cereal boxes?

Anything and absolutely everything.

If they prefer to read the cereal box to their carefully selected fun-yet-education books, let them.

Never take reading material away from a child (unless content is unsuitable). 

Language is alive and constantly in flux, children will benefit greatly from being made aware of this, reading things aloud everywhere you go - road signs, billboards, maps, logos, etc. The more they read, the better they will speak.

Reading needs to be seen as a way to communicate and learn about the world for pure pleasure. Ask your children what they want to read for today and if they fetch the Coco Pops box rather than "Baby Einstein" it's okay.

And if you are a traditionalist at heart, you might have to let Beatrix Potter go for now in favour of Barney (Although all the Potter's are available in board book format - larger pictures, and my 1-year-old loves them). 

Basically, throw caution to the wind, and if it can be read, will not involve them being in therapy for the rest of their lives, and they are showing an interest, count yourself lucky and go with it.

Do you have any tips to get your kids doing things they aren't keen to do, such as reading? Share your tips and tricks with us by emailing chatback@parent24.com.

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