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5 ways to engage your child with reading

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It’s no secret that reading can have profound benefits for your child’s long-term development. For children sitting the 11 plus, regular reading can develop important skills for the English and verbal reasoning tests, such as widening vocabulary, sharpening analytical thinking and enhancing imagination.

Some children are natural readers and some may need little encouragement from their parents. So how can you engage a child who is more reluctant to read? Read on for our top tips, free reading resources and a quiz!

1. Explore reading together

Committing time to read with your child is not only a great bonding activity, but gives you the opportunity to get involved in your child’s learning. Reading together provides a ‘safe space’ for your child to ask questions about new or challenging vocabulary and for you to discuss and interpret the meaning of the text as a team.

Try regularly setting aside 20 minutes of time in the evening or at weekends for you and your child to explore reading together.

2. Encourage all genres

Reading comes in all shapes and forms; books, magazines, comics, newspapers, recipes, labels, print adverts – they all count! Giving your child autonomy over their reading choices can help them feel in control of the activity and motivate them to explore further.

Reading a variety of genres can also help your child grasp the nuances of different styles, tones and purposes, putting them in great stead for the 11 plus test. Take a look at some of the age-specific books recommended by Atom’s education experts at the bottom of this article.

Try Atom's quiz with your child and see if you can guess which classic novel the opening lines come from.

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3. Create a reading-friendly home

Ensure your child has plenty of opportunities for regular reading by leaving a variety of reading materials around the home – particularly in rooms where they play and relax, such as the living room or bedroom. This will help to show your child that reading is a pleasurable activity that can be accomplished anywhere and is not restricted to a certain location (as disciplined activities, such as homework, often may be).

If your child has access to a variety of reading materials and the freedom to choose which to interact with, they’ll develop their own natural curiosity and begin to refine which types of materials they’re most interested in.

4. Use libraries and bookshops

It can be challenging to introduce your child to ‘old-fashioned’ reading in a digital world. However, public libraries and bookshops do still exist and are great environments in which to allow your child to hone their specific reading interest.

Most UK schools have a school library, which is a great place for pupils to develop an autonomous reading habit and explore recommendations from their peers and school librarians. If your child’s school doesn’t have this facility, it may be worth taking a trip together to your local public library or bookshop to allow them to browse a variety of age-appropriate titles and select their own material.

5. Be a reading role model

Children are impressionable, and you’ll no doubt have experienced intriguing moments where your child has copied your language or imitated your behaviour! However, this natural admiration may not be quite so apparent when they reach their teen years, so make the most of this window of opportunity and role model good reading habits.

Be visible when you’re spending some time with a book or a newspaper and allow your child to ask questions about what you’re reading and invite them to get involved.


Free reading resources

Reading lists

Explore our recommended reading lists for the perfect books to engage your child at every level:

Spelling list

Improving your child’s spelling skills is another key part of preparing for entrance exams. Although spelling will naturally improve as their vocabulary broadens through reading, here’s a targeted list of words to practice:

Being able to confidently spell these words will stand your child in good stead for the English and verbal reasoning sections of the 11 plus.

Specialist webinar

If you’re looking for more ways to transform your child into an avid reader, watch our specialist webinar which explores how you can engage your child with reading this academic year and beyond.

Watch specialist webinar, Engaging your child with reading

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