Reading doesn't have to be all about fiction

For lots of children who haven’t yet fallen in love with reading, it could be because they haven’t been offered the right books. Some children just don’t get excited by magical worlds and fantasy adventures. Some children prefer reading facts and information. And some children enjoy both.

There is a common misperception that you are only ‘a reader’ if you read fictional books; that non-fiction doesn’t count as ‘proper’ reading. And this perception can be incredibly damaging to a child’s relationship with books and reading.

Well-meaning parents are often keen for their child to become engrossed in Harry potter or riveted by Roald Dahl but the harder you push a child towards books they don’t want to read, the louder they proclaim that they DON’T LIKE READING!

An important factor in reading for pleasure is choice; you can’t force someone to get enjoyment out of reading! If your child isn’t being offered the books they enjoy, they won’t want to read.

So the ‘way in’ to reading for all children must be through what interests them most. But sometimes this gets a bit skewed. You shouldn’t, for example, automatically assume that a child who likes playing football will enjoy fictional stories about a football team. They might however, enjoy reading about the history of their favourite football club – but they might not know that such a book exists.

So how do you work out what your child wants to read?

Offer them books with wide-ranging content such as Andy Seed’s ‘The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff’ or Adam Frost’s ‘The Epic Book of Epicness’ and see what sparks an interest.

Try a book of factual short stories such as  ‘How to be Extraordinary’ by Rashmi Sirdeshpande. Or Jenny Alexander’s factual stories, facts and ideas in ‘How Can I Help the World?’ .

Or what about books from National Geographic Kids? They contain short articles, stories, facts and quizzes ranging from science to geography to the human body and animals.

These types of books have the advantage of allowing you to ‘dip in and out’ therefore feel less demanding than having to focus on an entire ‘story’. The more variety you offer your child in smaller more manageable chunks of reading, the more chance they have to find something they enjoy.

Fiction, non-fiction, factual story, poetry, fact books, comics and joke books are all legitimate forms of reading material. If your child is choosing to read any of these then they are reading for pleasure.

And down the line that factual interest in volcanoes may lead to them choosing to read a fictional story about volcanoes. But if it doesn’t, that’s ok, reading non-fiction is still reading!