Giving the gift of reading is about making it desirable for all children ... and we don’t all love the same things!

You’ve heard the phrase about leading a horse to water but not necessarily being able to force it to drink? Well, as many of us know, you can give a book to a child but you can’t make them read it! Making books available to children is a wonderful and important thing,  but it’s not “giving them the gift of reading”.  We’re ‘only’ giving them a book and not necessarily the will to read it!  And it’s this that is the real “gift of reading”. 


From a young age, children are taught which combinations of letters come together to make which sounds, and which ones inexplicably don't follow the rules.  We encourage them to 'sound it out' and 'have a go'.  We put pressure on them to keep practising.  For lots of children, it can be a really hard slog.   

 Sadly, too many children have never had the chance to experience how enjoyable, how entertaining and how valuable reading can be for them.  If they can’t see what reading can add to their life, then a gift of a book will, in all likelihood, be unwanted.   

At Coram Beanstalk, our training for reading helpers and parents alike is all about taking the time to really get to know a child as the best way to help them become a reader.  Offering a wide-range of reading materials. Taking cues from the child. Persevering until they find a book that sparks an interest... 


A child’s insistence that they don’t like – or even hate – reading usually really means ‘no-one’s shown me enough reasons why reading is something I would want to do yet... 

We try not to suggest that a book is ‘too hard’ or ‘too easy’ or that it’s not ‘proper’ reading – because that sends unintended and unhelpful messages to children.  We support children to access whatever it is they want to read – reading to them (at every age) if they are interested in something they can’t read for themselves yet. We try not to tell them what we think they should be reading – because part of being a reader is making your own choices about what to read.   We know that when a child begins to have positive experiences with books and reading and feels in control, they start to think of themselves as a reader. 


Giving the gift of reading is so much more than ‘just’ giving a child a book.  When we give a child a reason to read that book, when we help them to discover for themselves the value and pleasure that reading can bring, and give them free rein to explore books in their own way.... those children become readers with all of the benefits that brings.  You will have helped create a horse that chooses to drink without having to be lead to the water by anyone else!