When Rachel Chaston, Sydney Catholic Schools’ Education Officer Literacy K-2, was a child her mother used to take her children on the train from their home in western Sydney to visit the Mitchell Library. Rachel remembers it as a wonderful experience where she and her siblings used to walk around the different levels of the historic library just touching the books.
They’d also spend time at their local library where they were free to explore the shelves and pick out some stories to take home.
Ms Chaston says taking children to the local library is one of a number of simple ways parents can encourage a love of reading.
If there is something parents feel their children need to know – about making friends, good and bad choices – they can direct their children to those books.
Others include drawing on the expertise and knowledge of the local librarian to suggest ‘good reads’ and allowing children choice in the types of reading material they select with guidance from their parents.
“Reading at school tends to focus on gaining skills – understanding words, sentence structure and comprehending the text – so it’s important that reading at home is a more relaxed and pleasurable experience,” Ms Chaston said.
“We don’t want it to be like homework or for the parents to feel like they have to teach their children reading. So, another way to encourage interest is reading to your children. Having them sitting close makes it a comfortable exercise, and reading in an animated way makes it fun.”
Ms Chaston added that it was a myth that parents have to be avid readers themselves for their children to enjoy reading. “But it does help if you do just a few things like taking them to the library, reading to them and allowing them to choose a book.
“Reading is such a wonderful thing because it teaches us so much about life and how to make sense of so much in the world. If there is something parents feel their children need to know about life – about making friends, good and bad choices – they can direct their children to those books or ask their local librarian to suggest a book.”
Other good sources of information on books for all ages are the local bookshop or websites such as Better Reading.
Three quick tips to help your child to love reading
- Visit your local library
- Give children choice in what they read
- Read aloud to your children in a comfortable setting