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Children reading outside

Fun ways to engage children in reading

Have you ever struggled with a group of reluctant readers? 

We all understand the importance of reading in a child's development, and with Ofsted hot on schools’ heels regarding language development and comprehension, teachers are always looking for ways to engage children in reading. Reading for pleasure is not a new phrase for many of us, and is an important part of encouraging a love of reading in children. 

We have put together some of our top tips to help you engage children in reading! 

Create a positive reading environment

Every classroom should have a reading corner; a place that is inviting and excites children! Why not create a themed reading corner? This could be decided with the class and created together. Ideas for themed reading corners could include:  

  • Under the sea
  • Rainbow reading den 
  • Castle corner 
  • Transport 
  • In the jungle 

Linking your book corner to your topic for the term will help to engage children in learning about the topic as well as reading related fiction and non-fiction. Make sure to create a comfy space with pillows or bean bags to encourage children to choose to read in the book corner. Check out our Reading Area Signs

 

Child reading in a library
Child reading in a colourful library

This of course can be replicated at home! A few bookshelves and a couple of pillows can create an environment that encourages children to read independently.

It is also important that there is a broad range of reading materials available to children, such as recipe books, graphic novels, news blogs, instructions etc. In addition, children will enjoy reading about characters that they can relate to. Make sure to include diverse children’s picture books, books that depict children from different family structures, cultures, religions and also physical abilities. 

Change where children read

Creating a positive reading environment is proven to get those reluctant readers exploring new books - but equally changing up where children read from time to time can add a little more excitement.

 

Child with a book in a reading den
Child with a book in a reading den

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Build a fort and give children torches! 
  • Read outside 
  • Under the tables! 
  • Take a trip to the school library 
  • Find a special spot in the school or at home

 

Classes can also come together and allocate each child with a reading buddy. Children take great pleasure in reading with younger or older children and this can have a great impact on children’s progress. 

During these times, why not enjoy a book yourself? We understand there is lots to do and in some cases is not possible, but leading by example and enjoying a book yourself will encourage your class to do the same. As well as allow you to make informed recommendations!


Different ways to read and listen to stories 

Reading doesn’t have to be the traditional reading of a book in silence, of course as teachers we often read in groups or as a class. 

Other ways to enjoy stories include listening to them being read by other people. Why not ask teachers and parents to record themselves reading a story? Think of it as CBBC bedtime stories. Parents could set themselves up at home reading a well loved story - they could film themselves with their phones and send in the videos to the teacher. At the end of the week, the class could come together for story time, but this time watch someone they know reading the story to them! This not only models reading to children but also encourages parents to play an active role in encouraging children to read. 

Mother and son listening to a story on a tablet
Mother and son listening to a story on a tablet

Children could also listen to stories on different forms of technology depending on what you have available to you, whether it be on a tablet, iPad, CD player (we know they are still floating around in schools!) or, if you have the budget and feeling fancy, there are some fabulous story telling devices such as a Toniebox or Yoto player. These are really child friendly and great for a range of ages. 

Fun ways to incorporate reading learning objectives into the school day

Learning skills linked to reading doesn’t always have to be done in an obvious way. To build on what children already know, why not pick key vocabulary linked to your topic and challenge children to find the words in newspapers, magazines, travel brochures, marketing fliers, etc. 

When reading, children are encouraged to think about characters and how they might be feeling, or how they would react in a certain situation. Bring characters from class books to life by asking questions throughout the day about how the children think a character would react. For example, when solving a dispute in class you could ask how they think the wicked witch would solve the problem.

Children reading outside
Children reading outside

Other fun activities include: 

  • Put children's favourite programmes on without sound but with subtitles. Can children read along and understand what is happening? 
  • Host karaoke in the classroom once a week where children are challenged to read and sing lyrics on the screen. 
  • Learn and perform topical poems for special days, e.g. Flanders fields for Remembrance Day.
  • Some schools have a ‘reading dog’ who comes in with their owner to create excitement for some children about reading. 
  • Host a book cafe - put a range of books and new reading materials on each table. Children are able to choose where to sit and sample different reading materials. This could work well at the beginning of a topic. Children can think about what genres they prefer and why.

Explore more reading resources
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