Research shows that encouraging pupils to read at home can increase their ability to read at school and improve well-being.
“Sharing a story with your child is one of the most incredible things you can do for them.” The Book Trust.
Reading together in a fun and relaxed way not only helps children get hooked on reading, but it is also one of the best ways for families to bond, spend quality time together and make memories that will last a lifetime. Sharing books with children and talking about the story will also help to deepen understanding and develop language.
How can teachers encourage parents and carers to read more at home with their children? We explore some strategies you can use in this guide to help boost reading confidence by encouraging families to have fun sharing books at home, even after children start to read on their own.
A good place to start is by providing information for parents and carers to give them ideas and inspiration on how to begin or improve their experiences of sharing books at home. Why not download our free PDF leaflet which can be printed and sent home in book bags, or attached to emails and sent to parents directly.;
5 fun ideas for family reading at home:
Reading at home top tips.
1 – Encourage curiosity!
Asking questions and talking about the book is a great way to form connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and what it suggests the book could be about. Then share ideas about what you’ve been reading. You could talk about the characters, something that has surprised you, what something reminds you of or how it made you feel.
You might ask questions like, “how did it make you feel when….”, “why do you think this happened?”, or “what do you think will happen next?” then give children time to think and respond (you can count to six in your head if that helps!). Don’t worry too much about them getting things ‘right’, everyone uses their imagination to think about what happens in stories and there are often no right or wrong answers, especially as children have the best imaginations!
Make sure you give your child the chance to ask questions too. Children, (and adults!), often enjoy reading the same book again and again – this provides an important opportunity for children to get to know the story well, develop confidence and increase comprehension and vocabulary.
2 – Get playful
Think about where and when to read together — curl up on the sofa, in bed, or even make a book den out of blankets and pegs! You might be reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time or getting your children to read together. Children who are worried about reading aloud sometimes love reading to a family pet. This can be relaxing and fun for you all and just a few minutes each day can have a big impact on children of all ages. Be guided by your child about when you feel is the best time to read together – what matters most is that they enjoy it.
Why not try acting out your favourite parts of the story together, using different voices and dramatic actions. Have fun letting go!
Helping your child to see reading as play time rather than work time is one of the most powerful ways to help your child engage in books and become a lifelong reader.
3 – Get creative
Bring reading to life by getting involved in some crafty activities related to the book. It provides the perfect opportunity to talk about the story you’ve been reading too.
Why not try drawing some of the characters or creating a picture to show a different setting. You could then use these to retell the story or make up your own version.
4 – Get imaginative
Help engage your child in a way that suits them. This could mean creating treasure hunts that include finding similar objects that were in the book you shared, making a recipe that you read together or play a game where you pretend to be the characters in the book. Try using different voices, sound effects or actions as you read, you could even make sock puppets if you enjoy crafting.
Gift books as presents. Encourage book swaps between friends and family and encourage your child to always carry a book with them, so they are never bored! Charity shops often have good selections of children’s books and mean children can have access to a variety of stories they can read. Reading can be encouraged to read on the bus, while waiting for a sibling to do an activity, or when they need a bit of quiet in a busy household.
5 – Get ready to read anywhere, anytime!
Reading isn’t limited to storybooks! We are immersed in a world of print, which can be shared anywhere and at any time. Read yourself and help your child to join in, this could be anything, including…road signs, leaflets, magazines, recipes, comic books, travel brochures, sports programmes, toy boxes, or the back of the cereal packet! There are some great children’s magazines that school or parents might want to subscribe to such as The Week Junior, National Geographic Kids and First News. Local libraries are perfect for finding a rich and diverse mix of story and factual texts, as well as poetry and audiobooks.
Website hyperlinks to access reading resources: