Dedicated to making every child a proud reader, we want to ensure that parents, grandparents and carers have all the tools they need to help children to see reading as a fun activity at home.

Children have different needs at different ages, which is why we’ve compiled concrete tips and advice for you per age group. Explore the tabs below to find the information you need.

The information and tips on this page are taken from Help Your Child Love Reading by Egmont Books’ consumer and Insight Director Alison David, which contains advice on encouraging reading for every age group – from babies to teens.

Balancing learning the skills to read with reading for pleasure

How to ignite a lifetime of reading for pleasure

It’s never too early to start reading to children – even very young babies will benefit from the experience. They will enjoy being held and hearing your voice. At this stage it doesn’t actually matter what you read – you could even read your own book out loud to them! 

As they grow, establishing a reading routine, hearing voices, singing nursery rhymes and associating looking at books with the comfort and security of being with a parent are the important things. Use every opportunity you can find to read to your child – when they are feeding, when they are in the bath and when they are being cuddled. Picture books, lift-the-flap and novelty books with different textures are all good types of books to introduce. Your child will associate reading with positive happy feelings and this is a great foundation for establishing their own reading habit.

How long should you read for?

For very young children, five to ten minutes is perhaps all their attention span can cope with. As your child gets older and bedtime becomes much more regular, spend as much time as you can spare.

Reinforce the magic of story

Take the opportunity to reinforce the fun and enjoyment of reading by choosing a character and then substituting your child’s name. Try to bring stories to life in the real world – for example, if you read Mr Wolf’s Pancakes by Jan Fearnley, make pancakes afterwards and talk about the book.

Tips for reading aloud to your pre-schooler

  • Use colour, rhythm and intonation in your voice to vary the tone. It can be fun to really exaggerate; for example, use a sharp intake of breath to show extreme surprise or anticipation, or say, ‘OH NO!’ for any dangerous situation, and so on. Ham it up. They’ll love it!
  • Encourage your child to complete familiar phrases by pausing before the end of the sentence. They like repetition and love to show they know what is coming next.
  • Spend plenty of time on the pictures if your child seems to enjoy this aspect. As they learn to talk you can ask: ‘What can you see?’ You can also pretend that you can’t see something; your child will love knowing more than you do!
  • Bring books to life! For example, if you’re going to the seaside, find a seaside book. If you’re taking a trip on a train, read a book about a train journey.
  • Slow down. Allow yourself plenty of time to get the most fun out of each word and sentence. It doesn’t matter at all if you stumble over some of the words.
  • You don’t have to finish it! If their attention starts to wander, ask your child if they would like a different book and let them choose it.
  • Help Build Their Attention Span
    • You can help build sustained attention, which will help your child follow a lesson at school. When watching a film or reading a book, stop during the story and ask them what they think might happen next, or why a character did something.
  • Bring Books to Life
    • Look for opportunities to bring books you have at home to life. If your daughter loves the Fairy Animals of Misty Wood series, when you are out for a walk or in the car point out trees and woods and say, ‘I wonder if Chloe the Kitten Fairy is there today. Shall we read about her when we get home?’
  • Praise Any Independent Reading Steps
    • As your child becomes more competent at reading for themselves they might want to show you how they can recognise words. While you are reading a picture book, say, ‘Can you read that word/sentence? Well done!’ Use lots of positive language and praise them. Say, ‘We’ll tell Mum/Dad later that you read that!’
  • Explore New Ways of Reading, Genres and Formats
    • If they are reading independently, feed your child new books, give them variety, and keep talking to them about what they are reading. And keep on reading to them too. If your child is reading well and confidently, try co-reading – where you share the same book and you read portions of the text in turn. Explore every avenue you can think of to find new and different things to read. Listen to what your child is interested in and seek out books or magazines about them. There’s a book out there for everyone!