Encouraging my children to read for pleasure factors fairly high on my list of priorities. I remember when Ben started Reception, his teacher thought it was odd that he’d not really had access to a tablet or computer before that point but it had been completely intentional on our part. We wanted him to learn to play imaginatively, to enjoy books and to be able to entertain himself without a screen as we knew all too well that there would be plenty of time for that later! Of course at eight years old he now has a healthy obsession with Minecraft and is keen to get an Xbox for Christmas but he also loves reading. The number of times I catch him reading in bed long after he should have turned his lights out, or go in to wake him in the morning only to find he’s been up for ages reading his latest book . . . of course then there is the internal battle between being cross that he’s not gone to sleep when he should have done and thrilled that it was a book that caused him to still be awake!
I’m pleased to say that both girls are now following in his footsteps, Chloe is reading at a level which exceeds expectations for her age and Amy loves nothing more than to sit and listen to someone reading her a story, whilst she joins in with the bits she can remember.
This summer, Puffin have launched the Summer Reading campaign with the aim of getting as many children reading as possible – as both a parent and a primary school teacher this is something which I applaud and am keen to support.
Founded in 1940, Puffin is one of the world’s leading children’s publishers carrying some of the biggest names in classic and current children’s publishing. I can’t tell you how excited Ben, Chloe and Amy were to received a parcel of books from across the age categories of under 5, 5-9 and 9+ . . . particularly as they fit into one category each which means no arguing over which book belongs to who! Of course you want to see what they were sent don’t you?
Where’s Spot – Eric Hill
In all honesty, I think Amy is probably a little grown up for Spot now, but for the sake of a bit of childhood nostalgia, who can resist lifting the flaps to find that cheeky puppy!? She loved reading this with Dave and joining in with bits of the story.
The Giant Jumperee – Julia Donaldson
This book is a beautiful collaboration between the author of the Gruffalo and the illustrator of We’re Going on Bear Hunt – the softer, watercolour images are not ones which I would usually associate with a Julia Donaldson book but Amy loves them and they suit the story. This is a great book for bedtime – not too long, a little bit of rhyming and a funny surprise at the end.
The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop -Clare Balding
Chloe is just starting to read chapter books for herself and I’m keen to make sure they’re not all airy fairy princessy glittery nonsense – this novel is described by Jaqueline Wilson as having a “great girl-power message” which makes it an instant winner for me! Although Chloe is currently reading at a level about a year ahead of her age, this is still quite a chunky book for her so we’re saving it for a little while and plan on taking turns to read to each other!
George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl
Are you even a reader if Roald Dahl doesn’t feature on your bookshelf? George’s Marvellous Medicine has long been one of my favourites and I especially love reading it out loud in class ( to Year 2 in particular who always seem to be royally tickled by it). As Ben is a huge Roald Dahl fan I suggested he read this with Chloe – allowing him the opportunity to read out loud for an audience and also for her to be able to read to him.
As yet Ben hasn’t read any of the Wimpy Kid series – knowing they were aimed at around age 9 I’ve put him off for a little while but with him being a confident reader and having just hit 8 this last month I think we’re good to go. He was really excited to see the book waiting for him and said he’s seen some of them in school.
Wave Me Goodbye – Jaqueline Wilson
Guess what, Jaqueline Wilson isn’t just for girls! Having learned about WWII in school last term, Ben was especially thrilled to see this book about an evacuee arrive for him. Having that bit of historical knowledge will really help to give context to what he’s reading.
Over the years we’ve read to our children daily – a bedtime story is pretty much law in our house – and I think this has been key in fostering the love of books they each now have. We talk to them about what we’re reading, ask questions about what’s going on, what might happen next and how it might feel to be a certain character. We encourage them to join in with the bits they know, to finish off sentences and even to read to each other.
If you’re working on encouraging a love of reading in your children this summer then my top tip would be not to force the issue but to spend some time finding the right books. When I met Cressida Cowell at an event earlier this year, she said “There’s no such thing as a kid who can’t be excited about reading, they just haven’t found the right book yet.”
*In collaboration with Puffin Books*