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Tips and tricks to switch kids on to reading

Pictured are the 2024 Awards ambassadors. Girisha, Nixon and Maryam, avid readers who attend Te Kura o Whare Rā – Fernworth Primary School in Waihōpai Invercargill. Image credit: NZ Book Awards Trust/Anne-Marie Hamilton

Every year an expert panel of judges selects an incredible shortlist of titles for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. But these super readers don’t just know a winning book, they’re also pretty skilled at getting kids switched on to reading too. By Gemma Finlay.

We asked their collective mind to share their top tips for growing a passionate reader. After all, kids who read for pleasure perform better academically and have a stronger foundation for critical, digital and information literacy. They also develop empathy and knowledge of not just themselves, but also of other worlds, culture, heritage, and ways of being and thinking*.

If you’re looking for some great books to get your tamariki and rangatahi switched onto the joy of books, then check out the finalists for the 2024 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It’s a handy curated guide to the best books published locally in the last year.

Top tips to get kids reading:

  • Children are never too young to be read to (or too old). Start from birth and keep going as long as you can, way after they can read by themselves.
  • Use books to connect. Reading with your children is a great way to bond, plus books are always a way into a conversation.
  • Fill your house with books. Give them as gifts, find them in op shops and at community free libraries and join your local public library.
  • Read every night at bedtime. Create a routine that assists with both literacy and sleeping habits.
  • Make it fun. Use lots of intonation and silly accents when you read aloud together. If you’re enjoying yourself your child will too.
  • Offer choice and don’t judge. Take your children to a library or bookshop and let them choose what they want to read, even if it’s not what you think they should be reading.
  • Audiobooks count too and are a great, screen-free option for those moments when everyone in the house needs a little down time.
  • Talk about what your child is reading. Ask questions, show interest and let them tell you what they are enjoying about their book.
  • Don’t be afraid to provide support – give them the word if they are reading to you and having trouble. Stop if it is too hard i.e. they are having difficulty often on a page. 
  • And if you’re worried about their reading progress, have a chat with their teacher in the first instance.
  • Be a good reading role model. Make sure they see you reading books, magazines, recipes, a newspaper…

The winners of the 2024 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be revealed on 14 August. You can learn more about all the finalists here.

*Source: https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/reading-engagement/understanding-reading-engagement/reading-for-pleasure-a-door-to-success

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