J A Browne

The Habit of Reading Part One

The Habit of Reading Part One

What Google Said

Google ‘parent reading with child’ or ‘child reading with parent’ and you’ll see mostly younger children sat next to their parent or on their parents lap or tucked up in bed, book in hand, sharing a story.

The search results don’t offer up an older child reading with their parents. Like it’s something that stops happening after a certain age which appears to be true on some level.

Data suggests this happens around the age of eight.

Importance of Independence

The habit of reading with your child curled on the sofa or at bedtime tends to wane and become less and less frequent as they become independent readers.

But reading with your child as they become independent is, arguably, just as important as when they first open a picture book or turn a page themselves for the first time. Their independence is crucial, but independence doesn’t have to mean in isolation.

Emotionally speaking

As children read with greater independence; the stories more ‘grown-up’ is the time when parents should be talking to their children about what’s happening in the characters’ lives as if it were their own.

Just as parents transition from reading to their child to a position of reading with their child which is commonly seen as the children reading to the parent and sharing the story, so it becomes possible to form a new habit of reading in parallel with their child. Check out my handy little sketch ; )

Crucially, as children grow up and become more self-conscious, reading in parallel with your child removes the pressure. Like removing stage fright.

When I was a teacher, I came across a range of response when I asked a child to: “come and read with me”.

  • Some children couldn’t dive fast enough into their bookbags.
  • Others strolled
  • Inevitably, some stalled the process; and
  • Others just looked like ‘rabbits in headlights’ and often shuddering at the thought.

The beauty of reading side-by-side is that you can enjoy some reading time whilst they do.

You might share a sofa, a blanket and some biscuits to make it super cosy. Or, read in the park when the sun’s out. It doesn’t matter where you read as long as you read. Every word matters.

By forming or re-forming a reading habit together, you are actively parenting and enabling your child’s emotional growth, their mental health, stretching their emotional literacy and their future prospects.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing habit number two.

But in the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on reading with your child and whether the reading habits and culture in your home has changed as your child has grown.

One Reading Rule you might like to have together is this one… ; )

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