How to get your child reading over the holidays

By Pippa Thompson

Many parents worry about continuing to support their child’s reading progress during the school holidays. Holiday time can be a constant juggling act. You want to go out for day trips, or you may be travelling abroad or visiting relatives.

All of this at the same time as encouraging your child to read the books they have brought home from school and keeping their motivation and enjoyment of reading up as much as possible.

Here are some top tips for keeping up with reading in the holidays.

Reading in the holidays for 5-7 year olds:
By Emma Chaplin, Deputy Head, Literacy Co-ordinator for Foundation and KS1, and Reception teacher at Grays Nursery and Infant School in Sussex

1) Visit your local library
It’s free and children love choosing their own books to read. Remember if the book your child chooses to read is too tricky for them to read independently then read it to them or share the reading. Lots of libraries have free storytelling events and competitions, so look out for those too.

2) Internet fun
Visit the Oxford Owl Library which has lots of free eBooks to read and fun games to play, and there are lots of other good sites to visit too. Check out BBC Schools, CBeebies or Club Penguin.

3) Den reading
Build a den or hideout with your child out of dark blankets or sheets. Ask your child to choose some of their books to take into the den to read. Don’t forget the torch – it’s exciting to read a book by torch light!

4) Reading to other members of the family
Children love to share reading skills with family members so if you are visiting family then take reading books with you so someone different can say how proud they are hearing your child read. It’s a good chance to show off!

5) Postcards and cards
At special times of the year or celebrations, enjoy opening the post together to read Christmas cards, birthday cards, or letters from family and friends. Ask family and friends to write your child postcards whilst they are away on their holidays. Children love to read a postcard addressed to them. Don’t forget to send return post too – whether it’s snail mail or via technology.



Reading in the holidays for 7-11 year olds:
By Dawn Hallybone, senior teacher and ICT co-ordinator at Oakdale Junior School in Redbridge

1) Internet fun
Use the internet to search out author blogs and sites, book previews and trailers as well as general articles or reports on books. Many websites have great ideas and links to suitable topics to engage and encourage older readers. Visit the Oxford Owl Library for a range of free eBooks that will appeal to older children.

2) Out and about
When travelling, encourage your child to help when reading directions, looking out for road signs and talking about how long they have to travel or how far they have left. Reading timetables is also a great skill for them to develop – bus, train and tube – and will encourage their independence as well. Boys often particularly enjoy this.

3) Cooking
If your child likes to cook, encourage them to read the instructions in recipes and plan for what is needed. Some fun ones include Roald Dahl’sRevolting Recipes (Puffin), The Silver Spoon for Children, Jamie Oliver and school dinner lady Nora Sands’ Nora’s Kitchen (Collins), or Grow it, Eat it (RHS and Dorling Kindersley). But if you don’t know these, any will do.

4) In the news
Encourage your child to read newspapers and find out what is going on in the world. Try First News , a children’s paper aimed at 7–14 year olds, or CBBC Newsround online , as a change from television. You may want to be around if stories are of a sensitive nature, but talk to your child about what they have read. Use local papers to read about local events.

5) Holiday online scrapbook
Suggest making an up-to-date scrapbook online, using a blog that enables your child to upload pictures of their holiday and write about their experiences which can then be shared with family and friends and even the wider world. You may want to check the site your child is using for safety. 

Looking for book suggestions for your child? Check out Oxford Owl’s brilliant book suggestions from children’s literature consultant Wendy Cooling.

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