Reading for Pleasure: 6 Ways to Inspire It!

Reading for Pleasure: 6 Ways to Inspire It!

Dog enjoying reading
Dog enjoying reading

It’s that time of year again, when book characters come to life and the playground transforms into a Who’s Who of the book world. Yes, World Book Day is coming on Thursday 3rd March!

The day aims to emphasise the importance of reading for pleasure as research from the OECD indicates that it’s the biggest single indicator of a child’s future success.

Evidence shows there are 6 areas, which increase the chances of a child developing a lifelong pleasure of reading. These are:

  • Being read to regularly
  • Access to books at home
  • The ability for children to choose what they want to read
  • Having trusted adults and peers sharing and recommending books
  • The reading experience being enjoyable
  • Designated time to read

Based on these six areas, we’ve come up with some ideas that you could use for this year’s event (and indeed, throughout the year) to encourage reading for pleasure! Some we know you’ll do anyway, but others may be new to you. Here goes!

1. Sharing books at school

We know that this is something that happens daily in most schools, maybe more if you share stories in assemblies too, but our advice here would be just to mix it up a little.

You could read short extracts instead of a whole book to increase the variety of the books you cover; you could find a YouTube video of the author reading his/her own work, so the children hear a different voice.

The New Neighbours activity

There are some great resources out there to help. Busy Things, for example, includes extracts of many books, ranging from The New Neighbours and Toys in Space for key stage 1 to How to Train Your Dragon and The Illustrated Mum for key stage 2.

2. Make books accessible at home

If you and your pupils’ parents are excited by books and read for pleasure themselves, then it follows that the children will be more interested too. Sending school-owned books home in book bags is great, but there is something special about owning a book yourself. The £1 book tokens from World Book Day are a great way to achieve this, and also get new material into the children’s hands.

It’s a lovely idea to encourage the children to bring in books they’ve already read to swap with other children (so long as you don’t mix them up with the school’s books!)

3. Reading anything is positive

Many children find books long and daunting to launch into, but that doesn’t matter. Whatever children choose to read is positive, so anything goes – comics, magazines, even recipe books.

It’s really beneficial for children to read a mix of writing styles too, which can be encouraged with ‘reading bingo’ challenges. Use a pre-prepared one off the Internet like this one or make your own, and award prizes for the first sheet fully completed!

4. Book recommendations are powerful

Children love book recommendations from friends as their opinions count.

Story summary activity

Harness this by asking the children to bring in a favourite book and ask them to present it. They could give a short presentation or use our 6-scene summary template.

Alternatively, you could set limits on the number of words they can use or time they’re allowed to make it a little bit different.

BookTrust has a great list of recommended reading material on their website based on children’s ages and type of book. This is something you could share with parents, as they often appreciate guidance as to what is appropriate for different age groups.

5. Link reading to an activity that pupils enjoy

For some children, reading comes naturally and they simply adore how books can transport them into another world. For others, it’s a chore.

If it is hard work for a pupil, it’s a really good idea to link reading to something that they do find pleasure in. So, if they:

  • like to use their own imaginations, stop them when the book comes to a crossroads, and invite them to imagine what happens next.
  • enjoy chatting, ask them to think about inviting their favourite three book characters to have tea with them. What would the conversation be like? Would they argue or get on?
  • are competitive. Why not develop a challenge or a quiz to add that element of competition?
  • are arty, encourage them to read to then design a book cover.
Alex Rider Mission 1: Stormbreaker book cover

Busy Things has some stylised book jacket templates you could use, such as this one for Alex Rider Mission 1: Stormbreaker. They have some based on the book extracts they have; others can be tailored for any book.

6. Reading: a time and a place

Time for reading should be in every timetable and homework schedule but needs to be consistent to form a lifelong habit.

Involve your pupils’ parents so they can encourage the children at home, use a reading log to track what is being read and when, and reward frequent readers.

You could endorse the reading at bedtime routine by holding a Bedtime Story event early in March, where everyone comes in the evening, dressed and ready for bed for a story and a hot chocolate!

Summary

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought about how to encourage children to read for pleasure, and there are some ideas here that you can tailor to the needs of your particular class. Please do let us know what you think in the comments.

We’d love to see your pictures of the day too – we love fun costumes and it wouldn’t be the same without them! – so please share those on our social platforms (details below)!

Want to see the Busy Things activities we’ve mentioned?

If you’ve taken a trial with Busy Things, or subscribe, you will be able to find all the activities mentioned in this blog by simply logging in and clicking on ‘Lesson Library’ on the welcome page. By scrolling down to the Literacy>Reading and Comprehension section, you’ll see all our activities by age.

If you’re new to Busy Things, see what we have to offer by clicking here and take out a 28-day free trial. Once you’ve a login, we’d recommend you join one of our free Zoom calls to use your time most effectively. Click here to join one at a time that suits you!

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