Reading for pleasure is about far more than entertainment. It has many non-literary benefits: it increases empathy, improves personal confidence, boosts a child’s ability to form relationships, it reduces symptoms of depression and generally improves well-being throughout life. It also boosts vocabulary skills, builds background knowledge and increases comprehension. In fact, it is SO important that it is widely referred to as ‘the door to success’; reading for pleasure is a more important factor in a child’s life-chances (whatever their social background) than any other factor – even more than their family’s personal wealth.
How can we encourage a child to read for pleasure? There is one simple thing that all parents, carers and teachers can do: let the child choose! Really let them choose. A well-meaning adult steering a child away from their personal choice to something that the adult deems what the child ‘ought’ to be enjoying, does the reverse. If a child is allowed genuinely to choose a book for themselves, their investment in reading that book is very much higher. In short, a child is more likely to read a book, and to keep reading, if they’ve been empowered to choose that book in the first place.
We welcome browsers! Bring your children in to the shop and allow them to browse. Give them time. Allow them to talk to our booksellers themselves. When you can, bring a child to a book event – let them hear an author talk about how they created a book, and encourage them to meet and chat to the author at the signing afterwards. When we organise events, we always try to ensure that there is plenty chatting time!
Join the local library! We work closely with and support our local library services – make sure you’ve joined your local library. This is a great place where a child (and adult!) can explore loads of new authors and genres, without having to spend any money at all. Readers are made in libraries!