With the summer holidays having drawn to a close and the new term already begun, it’s time for thoughts of new resolutions, new stationery and new regimes to emerge.
Perhaps your children’s routines and habits have gone gloriously out of the window for a summer of running free and you are worrying about the routine of the school term? Or perhaps it is your own inner child, remembering the feeling of the discipline that a new term brings that turns thoughts toward re-establishing habits and routines?
One habit that it always make sense to establish, especially for children, is reading. We all know that reading is ‘good’, but why, exactly? How do children benefit from regular reading, and more importantly, what can we do as parents or adults in their lives to help nurture the skill of reading, and encourage reading for pleasure?
It’s hard to overstate the benefits that reading for pleasure and leisure bring for children of all ages. Reading for fun increases a child’s propensity for academic success, giving them a fantastic groundwork in general knowledge, an improved vocabulary, enhanced empathy and understanding, and a boost of self-esteem. Readers achieve better educational outcomes, but this is not limited to literacy alone. Readers also achieve higher levels of numeracy and verbal reasoning.
Books offer points of connection beyond the mundanity of our everyday lives, giving us insight, joy and hope when life feels bleak, and inspire us to look up from the pages and embrace all that this beautiful world has to offer. Reading is a human right, it enables us to dream beyond the constraints of our circumstances, to evolve and develop and fulfil our multiplicity of potentials.
What an exciting privilege to have the opportunity to open a child’s mind to the adventures that wait within the pages of books! And you can travel with them on this amazing journey, and perhaps fall back in love with reading yourself at the same time.
Be seen reading, and talk to your children about what you are reading. Create excitement around books. Children raised in homes with books achieve higher educational standards than those in homes without, and this rises with the amount of books owned. A mere proximity to books works magic!
Ensure books are available to your child. Join your local library, visit your local bookshop, seek out interesting books in charity shops, and look for Little Free Libraries in your area. Most importantly, let your child choose freely, and don’t dismiss their selections.
Great for bonding time and fantastic for bringing stories to life, reading aloud is a pleasure for the reader and the listener. 10 or 15 minutes a day is the perfect way to wind down together, and keep them hungry for more, with books that might be slightly more advanced than they’re able to read alone. It is often the reader that brings the story to life for the listener. What a privilege!
Reading should be for fun, escapism, joy, imagination… I could go on. Don’t focus on the outcomes of the reading, let it be for pure pleasure.
Comics, graphic novels, instructions, recipes… they are all reading and they all count. Just as working out the correct coins at the checkout is no less valid than an equation undertaken in a maths lesson, all reading counts.
Here at the Willoughby Book Club we’re passionate about reading for fun, for escapism, for learning, and we aim to build a world where all people have access to books and reading. This is why we donate a book to Book Aid International for each and every subscription purchased. They support projects around the world that give access to books, from a wonderful camel-carried library reaching remote desert communities in Somaliland, to a project rebuilding reading spaces in Syria and Turkey following the devastating earthquakes. Do take a few moments to find out about the great work they do.
It's important that we prioritise reading close to home as well. If you have a library locally, support it! If you have a Little Free Library, donate books and take time to tidy and maintain it. Support your school’s library and pass on books you no longer want to those that would be delighted to have them. Most of all, read openly, joyously, and share the love of books and reading with your family and your community.
‘The seeds of dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”