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Reading Matters Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read

Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read Hot

Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read

Wow, have we got a treat for you!

Nurturing buzzing, life long readers is a big responsibility.

Some children take to it like a duck to water, others, well a little more creativity is required.

Paul Jennings, as well as being a prolific childrens' author has a strong background in teaching and speech pathology. Oh, and he also has six children of his own.

So, when I had the chance for Paul to pop into My Book Corner I just had to ask him to share some of his invaluable advice with you.

I'd love to know what you think about these.

Which one resonates the most with you? Join in the discussion below. 

 Paul Jenning's Top Ten Tips

for Encouraging Children to Read


Fun, fun, fun. 

If children don’t want to do something it’s almost impossible to get them going.  If they love something it’s almost impossible to stop them.  There must be no pain in the reading experience.


Choose material which interests them. 

It can be fiction, it can be non-fiction.  It can be superheroes, it can be dinosaurs.  It can be Mongolian sea slugs, or riding surfboards. 

There is something for everyone – find it.


Make sure the reading difficulty level is appropriate. 

If a child is struggling, sighing or groaning because the words or concepts are too hard, you have reached the point of disaster and failure.


Read to the children from a very early age.  This has enormous benefits. 

Some parents start when the child is in the womb.  The child will learn the language of books which is different to the language of speech.  They will learn new words.  They will go new places.  But best of all, they will have fun.  They will associate books with love if you are sitting there reading to them and giving up your time for mutual enjoyment.  You will have set up a book as something to bring enormous pleasure for the rest of their life.


Include a lot of funny books in the mix.  Everyone loves to laugh, especially children.

Don't Look Know Book 1

(Click here, for your chance to win this v funny book)


Keep it positive and avoid failure. 

It is really important when children read aloud not to let them struggle.  The purpose of reading aloud is really to let the parent or teacher see how the child is progressing.  In itself it is not particularly important. 

Constantly pointing out mispronounced or misrecognised words is painful.  Every time you do it to a child it is like a little electric shock – no wonder they won’t come back for more.  If they are struggling, the book is too hard, find another.


Let children guess words. 

A lot of parents still believe that guessing is wrong.  Guessing is good.  It means that the child is reading for meaning.  It means they know what the story is about.  In primary school what is important is that the children get the idea and understand what is happening.  We needn’t worry too much about accuracy until secondary school.


Choose books which look acceptable to the other kids. 

This can be a difficult task when the child’s reading ability is well below the level of the rest of the class.  But to force a child to work with a grade one book when he is in grade five can be humiliating.  If the child doesn’t mind, there is no problem.  But if he or she is embarrassed we are inflicting great emotional pain.


Don’t worry if the child will read nothing else except one author or one type of book. 

I am not still reading Biggles.  In the end they will move on.  The main thing is that they are reading and enjoying it.


Involve children in reading activities around the day to day life of the family. 

Let them read about holiday destinations, involve them in shopping lists, recipes or football fixtures.  All of these activities involve reading and can be great fun. 

So there you have it, invaluable advice from a top author.

Which tip resonates with you the most, I'd love to hear from you below ...

Paul Jennings is the author of the new Don’t Look Now series, illustrated by Andrew Weldon and published by Allen & Unwin. 

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Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read 2014-06-25 14:07:56 Alison
Commented by Alison    June 26, 2014

Number 7

I find it so hard to just let my daughter guess! She often guesses so randomly instead of sounding the word out. I'm sure she does it because, as a strategy, it works sometimes, but it can make reading painful when she won't actually sound something out, or when she is failing to sound it out because she has such a strong idea in her head about what she thought it was. BUT, it is so helpful to have guessing presented in a positive 'understanding meaning' light. With that in mind, I will approach encouraging her to sound the word out (instead of the random guesses) with more positivity and less "just stop guessing!!!".

Owner's reply

Hi Alison, so glad that one resonates with you too.


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Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read 2013-08-13 14:35:02 Natalie
Commented by Natalie    August 14, 2013

Number 4

I'm going to say number 4. I recently asked my mum if she ever read to us as kids and she said that she used to read to us all the time because we would bring books to her to read. I don't remember that at all. I remember my grandmother reading to me but not my parents. I think part of that is because I learnt to read I think before I start school. And our house was full of books which didn't hurt either.

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Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read 2013-08-12 10:43:57 Elle Carter Neal
Commented by Elle Carter Neal    August 12, 2013

Number Nine :-)

My mother was extremely worried that I would only read Enid Blyton books when I was little. She even went to see the school librarian about it (whose response was something like, "The child reads - that's a good thing." By sixteen I had moved on to Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, and Homer voluntarily. I read all those Enid Blyton books because Enid Blyton wrote so many ;-)

Owner's reply

Thanks for your comments Elle!

At least you chose an author who had plenty of books to choose from! Having a favourite author is certainly a healthy and inspirational interest.


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Paul Jennings - Encouraging Children to Read 2013-08-11 21:21:23 Susan Stephenson
Commented by Susan Stephenson    August 12, 2013

Number 4!

They're all great tips, but number four is my Holy Grail of turning kids into readers.

Owner's reply

I certainly agree with the importance of No4 too Susan.

It's never, ever too early to start reading to children ... and a perfect opportunity to start delving into your own favourite childhood books, whilst creating new, special memories.

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