Mum's the word: Read between the lines to develop a child’s imagination

Mum's the word: Read between the lines to develop a child’s imagination

I remember reading so much as a child and can recall the books that I loved. I loved reading at nighttime with my parents and as I got older enjoyed books of my choice on my own. I also really loved reading during the summer.

We have a family cottage that we spend most of our summers at and some of my favourite memories during those years was reading books on the porch and being so proud of myself when I learned new words or finished a book.

I sometimes acted out parts of the book and pretended to be the characters. It was all so crucial in shaping my imagination.

My daughter Joan however is not a big reader. Our lives are so different of course mainly because we didn’t have iPads, tablets or game consoles growing up the way kids do now. And although I have written about it before in this column, I do try to limit her time on her tablet.

But whenever it is taken away she will always choose to go to another activity like art, drawing or making oodles and oodles of slime! Never did she decide to pick up a book for entertainment.

On her report card this year one of the main remarks was she needs to work at reading. She can do it when she puts her mind to it, but she does need to improve. When I asked her lovely teacher should I worry, he said no. I then asked is it because she is …. lazy! He laughed and agreed.

Since then I have spoken to a good few people about how I could help Joan start to enjoy reading and see it for all the magical fun it can be. And the most common advice I got was to find the one book she likes and is drawn to herself.

I am in a wonderful position that due to a hugely popular and well received feature on my Weekend Breakfast show on Today FM, whereby we invite young readers on air to read from their favourite books, I am sent so many new kids books titles.

Which I of course bring home to Joan and nothing was catching her fancy as hard as I tried. I was getting frustrated which wasn’t going to improve things and luckily one afternoon a few weeks ago I was talking about this with a publisher I know. She has two children herself with the eldest being very much like Joan, an unwilling reader.

She suggested I try the Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey, saying it was the jumping off point for her child who went on the read the whole series and is much better at picking up books and reading them himself now.

About five minutes after that conversation I raced to Eason’s and picked up three from the series. It is written in cartoon form, is highly energetic, funny and engaging just like Pilkey’s previous series Captain Underpants. Pilkey himself has a special way of approaching writing and illustrating his books as he himself was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia some years ago and obviously found a way to create literature that children with all abilities would enjoy.

So these past few weeks since the summer holidays have started I have put aside time for Joan to read to me. I always read to her at night, but our agreement is she has to read something of her choice to me each day for 15 minutes.

I found that if I left it to nighttime she was too tired and we were just having fights about it. So far it has worked and I have seen a big improvement. She loves the Dog Man books and flies through them now.

Even when our timer goes off, she wants to continue with the story. Long may it continue I say!

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