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Reading to children

  • 7 Great Tips for Reading to your Children at Home

    How do you encourage your children to read at home?

    7 Great Tips by Phoebe Doyle; Education Expert


    Phoebe Doyle a former primary teacher is our guest with some great ideas and advice for you about reading to your child at home. Phoebe writes articles on education, parenting and health issues for many leading publications, as well as on her blog; Tremendously Two.

    Whilst I was an early years teacher I learned one key thing about reading. This being that it really does matter how much is done at home, but not in the way some parents might be led to believe. It’s children that are surrounded by books (be they bought or borrowed) and have books shared with them at home, that come to the classroom wanting to read. Children that are forced to read their scheme book day in day out, despite the fact they find them dull, can become despondent and put off. It’s about striking the balance between what school needs you to do and what you need to do to instill a love of literature and an avid reader.


    Here’s some points I would advise you to consider…

    Don’t stress – never compare how your child’s reading compares with another. Each

    child will learn to read at his or her own rate. What actually matters is that they learn to love books and see the point of learning to read.

    Set a good example – let them see you read too.

    Read a page each – this will help keep the momentum of the story. Chat about the story as you go too: Enjoy it...have a laugh!

    Move on to serialised story reading but keep up the fabulous picture books too
    . They’re never too old for good quality picture books, I know I still adore them at 34!

    Don’t be a book snob! Many children learn to read purely on a die
    t of non-fiction and this is fine! It’s whatever gets them interested; whether it’s a book on dinosaurs, ballet – or even magazines.

    Not too tricky – let them try a page of a book. If they are stuck on more than 5 words per page it may be too much of a struggle. Read it to them instead and let them relax and enjoy.

    The most important point is to really have fun with books. Have fun with the words you read and encourage them to enjoy the written word (I actually think getting to re-read Dahl classics, this time out loud, is actually amongst my top 10 things about being a Mum!) If reading is a drag, something they have to do, you may be able to get them to learn to ‘bark’ the text at you – mere de-coding. What you want is a child yearning for more and this can only come as the result of a relaxed approach.

    Why not take a look at Phoebe's blog @

    We would love to hear any of your stories and ideas on how you encourage your children to read at home. Use the comments box below


  • Great Easter reads for children

    I was recently sent a copy of Six Little Chicks by Jez Alborough.

    A timely new release for Easter aimed at your little ones.

    As my seven year-old expert was at school, I settled in for my first read of this book alone, expecting to find a tale that was perhaps now too ‘babyish’ for my boy of Skylander and Superhero fascination.

    However, it made for a very cute read.

    It’s a story about a hen’s quest to protect her five little chicks (and one egg) from a nasty fox.

    She is aided in her quest by other animals on the farm they all live, the illustrations are beautiful, as you’d expect from the illustrator of HUG, YES and TALL , the language is rhythmic and repetitive, adding to the cuteness of the book rather than making it annoying.

    Even for a grumpy 30 something year-old dad.

    I also showed it to an early years practitioner (someone who works with nursery and reception children).

    She loved the book.

    Thought the language was brilliant.

    Decided there were plenty of morals that the children can relate to and be quizzed on.

    Also suggesting they could speculate as to – and work out - why the book is called Six Chicks, when there’s only five at the beginning.

    Counting comes naturally through reading it too.

    She was so enthused I did check that she wasn’t related to Jez Alborough.

    And while I quickly established their was no family relation she isn't alone in being able to relate to Mr Alborough and his lovely work.  Our favourite is Watch Out! Big Bro’s Coming! It still has its place on our Tidy Books bookcase and gets read from time-to-time, even though my boy is passed its target age range.

    But that brings me to how I was actually wrong about this book, and how my child would take to it.

    He really enjoyed reading it, reading it himself, and understanding to give the words their correct emphasis as directed by the author.

    I enjoyed listening to him.

    As I hope his classmates will when he takes it in for his Easter show and tell session.

    But what other books could he have chosen to take?

    Easter has us Brits invariably thinking about animals.  Bunny rabbits, and chicks mainly.  But how about Spot the Dog at Easter?

    I found some other excellent Easter read suggestions for children on Netmums.

    Do you or your children have a particular Easter themed favourite?

    Care to share them with us here?

    Ian is a regular contributor to the Tidy Books blog, and has his own blog, Single Parent Dad

  • Summer reading lists

    Will you be putting together a summer reading list?

    It is certainly amongst my to-do items, and I shall also be casting my attention to my son’s summer reading soon.

    Reading throughout the impending school holidays can be of enormous benefit.  As well as keeping children in the good habit of reading, the extra freedom of reading exactly what they want to, can turn a possible chore into a positive joy.

    That’s the hope of the Reading Agency, who will soon be releasing their Summer Reading Challenge.

    Libraries from all over the country will be involved in rewarding children for their reading throughout the summer.

    The challenge for children aged between 4 and 11 is simple, read six or more books of their choice.

    They will be incentivised by receiving collectable items and rewards along the way, with certificates and medals for all that complete the challenge successfully.

    This year’s theme is space, and has been called Space Hop.  Children will be boldly going where no one has been before, as they continue to nurture a life-long love of reading books through an exciting galaxy.

    As well as having a tangible Space Hop pack, there is also an interactive website linking children with top authors and illustrators, and giving them the chance to share and discuss their favourite books and reading tips.

    My local library will be registering children from the 10th of July, and you should get in touch with your local library to see how and when you can get involved.

    And how should we put together a quality reading list?

    Well of course children can look for books they have yet to read from their favourite authors, but if you’re at a library already, it is a good idea to make use of the experts at your disposal.

    Terry wrote an excellent post on the Booklights blog about how to make a great summer reading list.  As well as exploiting initiatives such as Space Hop, libraries are an excellent resource for putting together a book list.

    Based on age, author, or even subject.  If you have a passion for bugs, or princesses, then it is the experts at the library, who will be able to point you in the direction of books about, or containing, your favoured subject.

    So will your children be taking up the challenge? Or were yours some of the 750,000 to benefit from this initiative last year?

  • Using the World Cup as a learning aid

    Everywhere you look there is news from the World Cup.  It is unavoidable whether you love or loathe football.

    I am somewhere in the middle of those two groups.  I enjoy watching football, and usually a major football tournament would be of great interest to me.  But my interest this time has only really been ignited by ways in which my son is engaging with it.

    The stubbornness within my son’s personality means that it is a much more joyous thing to let him choose a topic to aid his learning and development, than force him down a road he is reluctant to travel.

    It seems this is true of a lot of children, especially boys, as they start their formal learning lives.

    I did not expect it to, but at the moment the World Cup really has my son’s attention, and I have been looking at ways of making the most of that.  I haven’t had to look too hard, as my son has found ways of doing that himself.

    He was given a Panini World Cup sticker book.  And he has enjoyed looking for the numbers that correspond with the stickers he has got, and has been slowly populating his new treasured sticker book.  Regardless of who the player actually is the number is all important to him, which is great.

    Older children at his school have been collecting Match Attax cards, some of which have been kind enough to give their duplicates to my son.  He thinks the few he has got are great, and has been using them to learn how to spell names of countries, and also as guides for when he is drawing footballers from the respective teams.

    His drawings have been brilliant, using different colours for the different teams.  Replicating national badges and flags, and coming up with scorelines for most of the scenes we have both drawn.  England always seem to score 10, he still has a lot to learn obviously.

    During England’s first appearance in the tournament he and a couple of his friends made flags and footballers on sticks.  They had great fun, barely paying any real attention to the game – not that they missed anything, unlike England’s goalkeeper.

    Then last night, with a little help from CITV’s Share-a-Story contest, using their template, he started his own World Cup cartoon.  Which included drawing and writing in speech bubbles.

    Yesterday really was a ‘football’ day as he wanted to conclude it with a football story at bedtime.  I had to think quickly (no mean feat) if we had one, then I remembered that Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Cool, from the Mr Men series, includes a footballer and he was more than happy with my choice.

    I am delighted that my son is engaging with the World Cup in such positive ways, and not just kicking a ball about, which he is enjoying doing too.

    Has it been the same in your house, and do you have any more ideas for me?

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