Tag Archive | "encouraging children to read"

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Holiday Reading – Fun Ways to get Your Kids to Read More

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Phillipa Mitchell

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…

Parents who are looking to increase their child’s enjoyment of books or improve reading and literacy skills can use thechildren_reading school holidays as a fun, relaxed way of introducing books to the agenda.

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

toddlers-reading-booksDo 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 yourchildren-reading 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.

Creative Follow-Ups
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!

Children reading 1Letting 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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How reading changed a little girl’s life, forever

Posted on 19 November 2009 by Phillipa Mitchell

Secret-of-the-Sacred-ScarabToday we received a very special letter from children’s author Fiona Ingram.

Fiona published her first book , The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, in December 2008  and children (and adults) from all over the world are devouring her adventure novel with relish. Red Pepper Books is fully behind Fiona, not just because she has written such a “cool” book, but because she’s a South African who is really making a difference. Fall in love with her like we did by reading her inspiring true story below…

Fiona IngramHello Red Pepper Books! I’d like to share with your readers something special relating to books: a wonderful, heartwarming story about a young girl’s discovery of the magical world of words. Perhaps parents reading this article might consider donating used or out-grown books to a library or reading centre in an underprivileged area. We take reading, easy access to books, and our gift of literacy very much for granted. However, for many children in South Africa, books are a luxury, literacy an almost unattainable skill, and empowerment through the written word a dream that is not likely to come true. We, as South Africans, can make such a difference in the lives of those around us. Let’s teach South Africa to read, one child at a time!

I don’t remember actually learning to read; it’s as if I always did. Although we grew up poor (five children to feed, clothe, and educate), my parents always had books in the house. And then of course, there were the books we inherited from my grandparents. My very old copy of The Wind in the Willows, with those simple yet beautiful illustrations, is still on my bookshelf. Ratty and Mole were my heroes (and still are!). Other old friends are The Secret Garden, with exquisite color plates, The Water Babies, Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, my collection of the Lucy Fitch Perkins’ twin series, with her poignant stories of children of all eras and places around the world. I particularly loved Anne of Avonlea, The Little Princess and many others.

The list of children’s classics is endless and not so long ago I read them all over again. I ‘inherited’  a  foster child from a disadvantaged background. This little girl came to me at age eleven, practically illiterate, scoring only 19% for English at school. Opening the doors into the wonderful world of books seemed insurmountable because she simply did not understand the connection between the written and spoken word. What to do? Begin at the beginning seemed a good idea.mabel1

I started off with my old favourites and Mabel loved them. Suddenly, the words were not frightening because she was hearing about places and people she’d never imagined. She’d lean over my shoulder, breathing down my neck as I read, my finger tracing the words as I sounded them out. The pages began to surrender the magical words, and she found them enchanting! Fired with success, we moved onto the rest of the library, slowly devouring my children’s classic book collection in very tiny bite-sized pieces. I was still doing most of the reading.

One day, Mabel decided she’d help out with the books, and began reading to me. It was still incredibly slow but I began to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We got movies of books, watched them, and then read the books, just in case the moviemakers had left out some important bits. We expanded our repertoire book by book. I found other ways to sneak words into her day, not just when we were doing ‘serious’ reading. She read recipes with me when we baked; she read the instructions on the packaging to me while we prepared dinner; she read advertisements to me when we shopped. Suddenly words were a constant part of her life.

Mabel also began to show her imaginative side at school. Her poems and creative writing pieces began to change, reflecting more color, bigger words, more complex themes and emotions. What a breakthrough! The final moment of success came when just recently she turned to my mother and said, “Gran, will you buy me a book?”

My mother nearly fell off her chair and replied, “You can have as many as you like, darling.”

Fiona and MabelMabel grinned. “Oh, then can you buy me all the Twilight books please?” Thank you Stephenie Meyer for being the first author Mabel ‘owns.’ (Apparently vampires rock.)

Her latest ‘own’ books? Inkheart, and The Golden Compass.

Her latest marks for English? A magnificent 75%.

“I can do much better,” she said, frowning. “I’m going to have to improve on this if I want to be a writer.”

I have now adopted Mabel, not having my own children, and I can say the greatest compliment is that she has decided to become a journalist or a novelist (just like me).

Recently I called her and, hearing her voice coming from her bedroom, asked, “What are you doing?”

Reply: “I’m reading!”

Music to any parent’s ears!

Fiona’s book is available from Red Pepper Books. Click here to read more or to order your copy today…

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