Reading for pleasure

When you are an adult you can decide for yourself when, where and what you’ll read.

top-10-most-read-books-in-the-worldYou can decide if you want to be challenged by the book or want an easy read to take your mind off Christmas shopping. You can decide if you want to know more about WWI or would just prefer to read about a hundred year old man who climbed out of a window. But what about the very young readers, at what stage do you introduce books into their world?

Have you ever wondered at what age (the child, not you) you can start reading to children? Does reading a story to a two month old baby make a difference in later life? There is not a right or wrong answer to this question; when one of the party is unlikely to remember, and I am referring to the child, and is unable to talk back, again I mean the child, it is very hard for researchers to know whether it makes a real difference. Do you ever wonder if you are encouraging children to read too early?

kids-books2-1024x640Three UK organisations have something to say about this. According to the Booktrust – a charity whose purpose is to encourage children to read – reading is central and critical to the development of young children. They believe that books can bring lasting benefits, help bond families and transform lives; that reading is one of the most effective means of promoting social mobility and access to books and the ability to read should be a fundamental right for all. Strong words and Booktrust are passionate about their role in ensuring that books and reading for children is provided for every child in the UK.

The Reading Agency is another charity aimed at helping getting books to children (and adults), who might not otherwise have access to books. They believe that reading, and books, can enhance a young mind and more importantly broaden the mind, to use a slightly old fashioned phrase. These are just two of the charities working today in Britain that believe that books and reading are an essential part of developing lives and a fundamental right for everyone.

handfuls-of-booksThe National Literacy Trust is another charity that believes everyone in the UK should have the literacy skills they need. On their website, they cite overwhelming evidence that reading has a significant relationship with a person’s happiness and success.

“A deep engagement with storytelling and great literature link directly to emotional development in primary children, according to The Rose Review, 2008 Independent Review of the Primary School Curriculum. “

“There is a strong association between the amount of reading for pleasure that children reported and their reading achievement, reports the Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS) (National Foundation for Educational Research, 2006, Twist et al. National Report for England)”

“But the academic benefits of a strong leisure reading habit are not confined to improved reading ability. Leisure reading makes students more articulate, develops higher order reasoning, and promotes critical thinking, says the National Endowment for the Arts in “To read or not to read”, 2007.”

Extensive research has also shown that children love being read to, it’s a moment when the adult is totally focused on entertaining the young listener as well as being a moment when the child has the undivided attention of the adult. These are special moments and will encourage a bond between the two people. There are so many funny, engaging and funny stories that for adults there can be a never ending source of books so pop into your local independent bookshop and we’ll be more than happy to recommend you a wide variety of books for the next reading session.

boy-girl-reading1The research has shown that children who read for pleasure will gain an advantage that lasts their whole lives. So at what age can children start making their own decisions about what they read and what they don’t want to read? From our experience in Dulwich Books, at a very early age, in fact just like adults they are heavily influenced by the book cover, does it have a pirate on it? Is it pink? (Can be a positive or negative) Does it have Charlie & Lola on the front cover? These are just a small selection of what we hear children say when they are deciding whether they’d like to have a book read to them.

My earliest memory of reading, as a six year old, is of weekly trips to our local library in South Dublin on a Saturday morning to choose my book. I went with my parents who were also choosing books for themselves and whilst they were browsing in the adult section I was allowed into the children’s section. I felt really grown up and trusted by my parents to make my own choice. For me it was part of growing up and helped made me the person I am today, hopefully that’s a good thing!

All these ideas are centred on “reading for pleasure” and that often involves choosing the book you’d like to read, not necessarily what you should read, or what someone else would like you to read, it is all just about reading for pleasure and a pleasure that everyone should treat themselves to.

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