Five Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read

To celebrate the UK's National Storytelling Week, WhichSchoolAdvisor looks at some of the most innovative initiatives in schools worldwide to encourage students to read…
Five Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read
By Carli Allan
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One of our favourite places to visit on a school campus tour is the library. As well as being home to hundreds (often thousands) of books and journals, the school library can be the source of some incredible ideas to encourage a love of reading.

From vending machines to train maps, WhichSchoolAdvisor highlights some of the most creative reading programmes we’ve found in local and international schools around the world.

Grab a book to go!

State-funded primary schools in England are using vending machines that dispense books rather than snacks to encourage a love of reading. Students who impress teachers with their efforts in class are rewarded with tokens, which are used in vending machines at schools to exchange for a book.

Penybont Primary School in Wales is one of the latest schools to join the initiative. The vending machines, which are in Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2, are stocked with a mixture of traditional tales, classics, and new releases, including Five Children and It, Lemony Snicket, The Pied Piper and The World’s Worst Children. Other UK schools include Tor Bridge Primary in Plymouth, Oasis Academy Aspinal in Manchester, and Brandon Primary in Durham.

Reading is a journey...

An international school in Singapore has created an innovative MRT-style map of books, poems and authors for students to go on a reading journey. Librarians at Tanglin Trust School teamed up with a parent to create the very novel Tanglin Reading Express. The map is displayed in Tanglin’s Junior Library; students can follow one line on the map, each representing a different genre, to help them choose which book to read next.

Students can choose to follow the blue Adventure Line, for example, and read books including Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Three Musketeers and Emil and the Detectives’ other lines include Scary and Horror, Real Life, and Edwardian Poetry. When they finish reading a book, they complete one of the tasks listed in the ‘Train Depot’ (anything from writing three questions to ask the author to drawing a character and labelling it with adjectives). After reading three books on any one line, they get a stamp in their ‘student passport’.

Judge for yourself

Cranleigh School in Surrey launched its own book awards for young readers aged seven to 10 years. The annual Awesome Book Awards offers students the opportunity to vote for their favourite books from a shortlist of five authors, with the winner being announced in a ceremony every May.

Thousands of students from schools across South East England read the whole shortlist and then vote for their favourite overall. To be eligible for the award, titles must be a UK-based author’s debut novel, suitable for able readers aged seven to 10 years, and appealing to both boys and girls. The shortlisted titles for 2022 include Rumaysa: A Fairytale, by Radiya Hafiza; Elsetime by Eve McDonnell; The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips; The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr; and The Boy who made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter.

A paw-sitive reading buddy

Schools worldwide are bringing in listening or reading dogs to encourage children to read aloud. The dog, unlike a human listener, gives children the chance to read uninterrupted, without being told they have mispronounced a word or skipped part of the story.

The Kennel Club, which runs the Bark and Read scheme for schools in the UK, says:

"When children are trying to read in a room with dogs, they become less stressed, less self conscious and more confident. If children are partnered with a dog to read to, the dog provides comfort, encourages positive social behaviour, enhances self-esteem, motivates speech and inspires children to have fun and enjoy the experience of reading."

Making time to read

First launched in the US by children’s author Beverly Clearly, DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) has become part of the curriculum in schools worldwide. A bell rings and everyone in the school or a classroom will stop what they are doing and read for half an hour – purely for pleasure.

Does your school have a creative or wonderful way to encourage students to read? Share your stories and pictures with us at [email protected]

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