Summer Reading Challenge

child reading

From a Summer Reading Challenge to games, dressing up and more, there are many ways to help a child struggling with reading confidently. They might get anxious when reading aloud in front of other children, or struggle to maintain concentration with a book. No matter the reason, there are plenty of things you can do to help your little one gain confidence with reading.

So, stay tuned as we take a look at 8 simple tips & tricks to help boost a child’s reading confidence in no time at all.

How a Summer Reading Challenge can encourage reluctant readers

Funded by Arts Council England, the Summer Reading Challenge initiative encourages children between the ages of 4-11 to read during the summer to help prevent learning loss over the school break.

It is a challenge, almost like a game where kids are tasked with reading any of the chosen book selections. Also, there are actual games available on the website too. This year the challenge is all about Gadgeteers and has been created with the help of the Science Museum Group for a fun, sci-fi educational experience. The idea is to make reading a more accessible, fun, and exciting activity to do.

Over 700,000 children across the UK take part each year and you can too by visiting the website or heading to a local UK library this summer.

7 More Tips to Boost a Child’s Reading Confidence

1. Check out the film adaptations of their favourite books

One way to help boost reading confidence is to increase their knowledge of the plot in a book. You can facilitate this by watching the film adaptations of movies before or after reading the book. Not only will it help them get to know the story, but comparing the book and film characters is a great way to encourage analytical thought processes.

There are so many great film adaptations out there – and loads on the horizon too. For example, the Percy Jackson series is about to start filming for Disney+. Meanwhile, there are loads of other ideas film/book combinations already available. From the famous old classics like Fantastic Mr Fox or Matilda by Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, to new classics by J. K. Rowling.

2. Let them choose what to read

Children often choose books based on what the class is reading and have to read certain chapters or pages. However, if you notice a child is a nervous or reluctant reader, a great way to help them build confidence is to let them choose what they read. You might be concerned that they will only be comfortable with reading what they like, but, letting them read this way will slowly build their confidence in a way that suits them. Therefore, when it comes time to read something less interesting to their tastes, they will still feel able to tackle it. They don’t just have to stick to books either, let them choose from comics, magazines or graphic novels.

3. Play some reading games

Why not have some fun and play some reading games? We all know that children learn in lots of different ways, not just through reading, so including reading-related games can help them keep learning whilst having fun. There are plenty of options to try – some popular ones include:

– I spy (with my little eye) – helps with spelling and describing
– Scavenger hunts related to books – helps with understanding and analytical thought
– Online games
– Letter bingo – aids spelling and word comprehension
– Making word or letter artwork – boosts creativity as well as spelling and understanding

In fact, you could also try introducing reading themes into their favourite game. For example, you could task them with putting on a play using a theme from a book or movie adaptation.  There are loads of other reading games to try in my games books for all ages. (Also available in paperback from Amazon.)

4. Let them get comfortable

A great way to boost learning is to make them comfortable and feel safe – this could be in small class groups or at home with the family. First, let them pick a story. Second, let them get comfortable either in a cosy room, or in the class reading area. Finally, let them take the lead.

If they’re reading out loud, it may be tempting to interject when they are trying to read a word or figure out a sentence, but try to let them master it on their own at first. You can help with hints or encouraging questions, but give them space to learn and challenge themselves in this familiar and comfortable environment. The feeling of safety can encourage them to take on more challenges.

5. Talk about difficult emotions

Children can become nervous readers for many reasons. For example, it might be social anxiety, fear of ridicule from peers or simply the pressure they put on themselves to please parents or teachers. Depending on the child’s age and level of emotional awareness, it might be useful to discuss these emotions directly.

Begin by asking them how they feel when they think about reading aloud. Then work with them to put names to the emotion. If they want to cry when thinking about reading to the class, let them know they have described the feeling of fear and that this emotion is normal. Relate and reassure them that it’s ok and that even adults feel fear as it is a natural part of life. 

6. Praise your child and celebrate their wins

Chastising your child about their level of reading or confidence surrounding it is unlikely to help them be more confident. On the contrary, it will only pile on negative emotions and make the problem even worse. Instead, try praising them every step of the way and celebrate each small win. Little wins include finishing a page or a chapter, learning a new word or reading out loud. And remember to let them know what a wonderful job they are doing.

7. Make it entertaining

If they are a nervous reader, chances are they associate negative emotions like fear, anxiety and inadequacy with reading. A great way to combat this is to make reading fun.

Children learn through play, so make reading a game. For example, by choosing silly books, encouraging dress-up days or reading aloud in funny voices. Consequently, over time children improve their reading skills and confidence whilst associating it with positive emotions. 

In conclusion, why not take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. Try a few other tips and tricks to say goodbye to reluctant readers and hello to reading confidence. Summer learning loss will be a thing of the past when you do, so what will you try first?

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