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Hooked on Books

Reading is not something that suddenly happens at school. It starts at home and out in the world, where children’s mileage with language, alongside their experiences, supports their literacy development.

KATE BARBER talks with primary-trained teacher and mum, MARCIA KASHIZUKA, about instilling the love of language and books in young children.

Two, four, six or eight – when it comes to ideas for getting kids hooked on books, the same principles apply, regardless of their age or ability. ‘Make it fun and follow their interests’, says Marcia. ‘Reading shouldn’t be a task – “we have to read at least two books a day” – but something fun that happens throughout the day, whenever the opportunity arises.’

Ten page turning tips

1. Unwrap A Present
Go to the library and borrow books, or buy old books from the second-hand shop. Wrap them up, then let your child choose a wrapped book to read before bed. This is also great for December, as you can wrap up Christmas books and put them under the tree to read each night.

2. Action & Animation
Put actions to children’s favourite books: your child will love doing the actions as you read together. Use your acting skills to engage young readers: for example, gasp loudly then quickly close the book when Scarface Claw appears.

3. Explore Your Library
Go to the library and utilise the skills and knowledge of the children’s librarians. Let children choose their own books (set a limit) – and try to resist screening their choices. Set a theme before going to the library – for example, ‘let’s find books with animals in them.’

4. School Books Are Cool Books!
When children start bringing books home from school, be careful to avoid putting pressure on them to read. Make reading into a game if you need to: get your child to stop reading halfway through the book and guess the ending before they read it to you. You can make some pretty funny suggestions, which they will enjoy.

5. Oops!
Model yourself going back and fixing up a word when it doesn’t make sense. Make mistakes on purpose. Think aloud as you read, ‘I wonder what the dog is going to do next?’

6. Movie Magic
Read age-appropriate books that have been turned into movies. Use a movie ticket as a bookmark to motivate your child, and once you/they have read the book, go and see the movie.

7. Cut It Out!
Buy cheap, old books from the second-hand shop. Cut out some characters and glue them on paper to make your own storybook. If you don’t want to use old books this way, print out pictures, find ones in magazines or draw them together.

8. A Novel Setting
Make a fort out of old blankets with cushions. Load up books for you to read together, make a hot milo, grab some biscuits and enjoy spending time together. Alternatively, when you’re going on a picnic or to the beach, pack books to read while you eat lunch.

9. Random Reading
Recognise reading opportunities that arise naturally, such as helping read the shopping list or a recipe – these are such valuable and meaningful opportunities.

10. On The Fridge
Take videos of your child reading and get grandparents to send back videos of them reading too. You could get relatives or friends to read when they Skype. Take a photo of your child reading their favourite book and put it up on the fridge so they see themselves as a reader.

You are your child’s first teacher, so let the teacher know what you think might help at school as well. If your child hates reading their school book at home, don’t battle over it: let their teacher know. Do this early so you can work together to find solutions. Children benefit when parents and teachers work together.

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