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Why it’s important to make time for reading

Mum reading with her sons
Reading with your child is a valuable part of their learning, and your relationship, but how do you make the time in busy family life?
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Reading is probably the most important skill that your child will learn. It opens up a whole new world of learning and imagination, and your help is essential.

The more you help your child at home, the easier they will find it to develop the vital skill of reading. However, if you work, run a house, have other children, and rarely get enough sleep, it’s a sad fact that reading with your child can start to feel like just another “to-do” to tick off your list.

You might have just got home after a 12-hour day, have dinner to cook, packed lunches to prepare, clothes to wash and dry, cats to feed, not to mention Holby City to watch (we all need a guilty pleasure!).

But spending some time reading a book about a not-very scary but very hairy Gruffalo or a wayward and Horrid boy called Henry actually gives you the time to breathe, relax, and spend some quiet time with your child which can help you to forget the hustle and bustle of your hectic life, even for a short while.

So choose a time when you’re both relaxed and before you both get too tired, settle down somewhere quiet and comfortable, and make the time to read with your child.

Why it matters

When you share a book with your child at home, you are showing them that you think reading matters. You are giving your child your full attention and that tells them that reading is a special activity that is worth time and trouble. And children who get help and encouragement at home learn to read much better than those who only read at school.

When your child is under five, reading bedtime stories and enjoying books together is the best preparation for learning to read. As your child learns to read, usually between ages five and seven, you still have a very important role to play in helping them to enjoy books and develop a lifelong love of books and stories.

How to inspire them

When your child is first learning to read, support and encourage their interest in book and stories through reading to them. Tell your child a story that you’ve made up from your imagination, perhaps using people or animals they know or characters from other stories that they are familiar with but add your own twist.

Let your child choose the book you read together. Don’t worry about re-reading a favourite book night after night, add some funny voices and mannerisms and your child will look forward to it each time. Re-reading familiar books can actually increase your child’s confidence in reading.

Let your child see you reading, too. Dads in particular may want to encourage their sons to read by picking up a book, magazine or newspaper themselves. Above all, aim to make the reading experience a fun, cosy and time together that you both enjoy and look forward to.