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How do you ‘make’ him read like that?

That’s the question I was confronted with this morning when our almost 5 year old son read out loud to a room of people.
‘With a big stick’ I joked in reply. Seriously though, why do others assume that a parent can ‘make’ their child read? I can encourage, I can expose them to the wonderful world of books from the very start, I can’t actually work magic.
Often people say that it’s because I’m a teacher, which I find slightly irritating. I’m hoping it’s intended as some kind of compliment, but in reality my chosen profession has had little impact on my own children’s learning. In fact my eldest never listens to my advice in English even though I have an MA in the subject. That’s the joys of being the parent of a strong headed almost teen. You bring them up to be confident and independent and then realise how much easier your life may be if they were subservient and a bit daft! I digress.
I helped my children become confident, enthusiastic readers in the same way as my non-teacher parents did way back in the 70’s. I read to them a lot, the house is fit to bursting with a whole range of books, we go to the library, we treat books with respect. That’s what makes a good reader. Yes, our little fella is a bright boy (I can say that, it’s not shameless bragging, honest), but ultimately, he wanted to learn to read, just like our girls did. They all had the desire to explore stories, poetry… whatever sparked their imagination, without the constraints of mum and dad dictating when it was time to do so.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is simple. Fill your child’s experiences up with books and meaningful talk, read to them often and indulge their little obsessions. What I mean by that is, if they go through an Ancient Egyptian phase, buy or borrow books about it. If it holds an interest for them, they will endeavour to research and read for themselves.
Phonics and all that jazz are part of it, but they do not create readers for life, but that’s a whole other blog.


The independent children's bookshop and tuition centre in the heart of Brentwood, Essex. Owned and run by Mr Frog & Mrs Chicken (happily married book-nerds), with the sole aim of bringing high quality books and tuition to our community.