‘He hates reading!’

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‘He hates reading!’ is one of the most common refrains I hear from the parents of my students. Enjoying a good book doesn’t come naturally to all of us and while I may enjoy the virtues of literature, most teenage boys would rather be playing football or Fortnite. Unfortunately, nagging, bribing, or forcing them to read doesn’t tend to produce great results and can even put them off reading completely. We all know how our kids love to take our wise advice!

I believe the key to getting kids to read is to accept they may just not enjoy the books we would like them to read, but there are a whole host of other types of genres and texts out there that may appeal. What interests your child? If they’re obsessed with football, what about an autobiography? Or, the sports pages of a Sunday newspaper? Newspapers tend to be excellent reading sources, with use of dramatic language, varied sentence structure, as well as improving kids’ knowledge of current affairs.

As students enter KS3, being able to discuss and critique what they read grows in importance. It’s worth reading with your child, talking about what they’re reading as you go through a book, article or whatever they’ve chosen. As busy parents, it’s hard to find the time to fit this into an already fit-to-burst schedule, but even twenty minutes of shared reading is great.

So, what should we ask them about as we read together? The educator, Brian Oshiro, argues in his TED talks, that encouraging kids to think critically is a vital learning tool.  He claims moving beyond ‘what’ and asking ‘how’ and ‘why’ is key. If they can explain the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, ask ‘how do you know this?’. This encourages kids to provide evidence to back up their ideas. You could even give your own perspective, prompting them to consider how different readers might view things in different ways. These ‘higher order questions ‘ are the ‘key to critical thinking ‘ according to Oshiro.


What texts do I recommend for getting started? Here are a few ideas. These books would be suitable for Year Five and up, but, as I said, go with what your child enjoys most!

Hacker by Malorie Blackman 

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman 

Wind on Fire Trilogy by William Nicholson

Survival by Chris Ryan

Face by Benjamin Zephaniah 

Walkabout by J.Vance Marshall 

Shadow of the Minotaur by Alan Gibbons 

The Bush Bash Bosh by M.E Allen

Ruby in the Smoke by Phillip Pullman

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