A wonderful article that has been shared with us by children’s author Fiona Ingram on using school holidays to get your kids to read…
Ideally, one or both parents will be home at that time because getting kids hooked on books needs lots of parental input! The perfect child is an absolute bookworm, devouring regular piles of books with its proud parents seeing the results in their literacy and comprehension skills at school. Sadly, this is often not the case. Either school reading lists are uninspiring, or textbooks are boring, or there’s just too much other distracting ‘stuff’ going on. The holidays are perfect for remedying this. Parents can create lots of interesting, fun projects to do with their children to get them reading.
A Holiday Reading Plan Is Essential
Do not say “We’re going to read fifty books by the time school starts.” Instead say, “There are so many fun things to do this holiday. We should make a list so we don’t miss out on anything special.” Don’t mention books at all. Make a list of things to do together.
Maximize on Trips
Day trips are great because there’s lots of reading involved to prepare for it. Anything to do with nature is the perfect topic because most kids love animals and the outdoors. Take your pick: It could be to an animal park, a bird park, the zoo, a nature reserve, a theme park, or an aquarium. For Joburg holidaymakers, one brilliant trip would be to the Cradle of Humankind site. It has loads of interactive stuff to keep children of all ages fascinated. There’s also lots of reading material that accompanies their truly magnificent displays. Monte Casino Bird Park has memorable flying displays. Enjoy the birds and then read more about them at home.
Read All About It
Depending on your outing, next stop is a visit to the library to pick out relevant books to read up on the trip. Ask your child’s opinion, or let them decide between two books. At the same time, select books for yourself and suggest your child gets their own library card. If the child does not take out a book right then, don’t worry. Whatever your holiday choices, make sure you incorporate reading wherever possible, either your before-hand reading, or else even just the information posted for example at the zoo. You the parent can encourage your kids to read to you all about the animal, or bird they’re seeing.
A follow-up to that special trip leads to more creative opportunities. This is the ideal moment to say, “It’s a pity (favourite relative) couldn’t come with us. We can still share the fun though. Wouldn’t you like to write down what you saw while I sort out the photographs?” Plan for this in advance by purchasing an attractive blank-page album so the good deed becomes a full project, involving lots of writing.
Audio and Visual Appeal
Age-appropriate audio books are just perfect for any length of time in the car. Make it an adventure, something exciting involving action to keep your child riveted. But don’t stop there. Movies are a visual treat worth exploiting. Pick a movie you know is from a book. Have a fun afternoon at the movies with popcorn, and then on the way home say, “We should get the book!” After the visual stimulation and excitement, your child will not refuse. Buy the book and the movie. Besides, you must get the book just in case the movie makers left out something very important!
Letting Your Child Choose
When next you are browsing the book stores, let your child pick their own reading material. This does not have to be ‘good books.’ Boys are great fans of games (either video or sports), so a magazine devoted to the topic is a good way to spark interest. Girls love fashion, style or the antics of their favorite celebrities. Don’t worry about ‘good literature’ for the moment. Let them read whatever excites their interest.
Write it Down
A personal holiday diary is also a way of getting your child to write down feelings, experiences, updates, and ‘stuff.’ You can make it a shared experience by writing in it as well.
These are just a few interesting and fun ways to share the experience of reading, without shoving books under your child’s nose. Using books and reading skills creatively, the savvy parent can inspire their child to find pleasure in the written word and ultimately to make their own reading choices.
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