At Coram Beanstalk we often hear about children who are just ‘not a fan of reading’. Children who read 'really well' but don’t enjoy reading.

But wait, what actually are the indicators that a child reads ‘really well’?

We shouldn’t be fooled by thinking that a child who can decode fluently is a competent reader – decoding alone is not enough.  The enjoyment of reading comes from understanding and connecting with what you have read.

Being able to chat about a book and relate it to other situations, having opinions about characters, plot and settings, being able to describe how they picture what’s happening are all indicators that they read ‘really well’. 

Being able to read the words and punctuation on the page fluently only tells us that they are effective decoders.

Attitudes towards reading stem from experience.  If a child has consistently positive experiences with books they will enjoy reading.  If they are merely going through the motions of picking words off a page, they likely won’t. 

The average age of a child when a parent stops sharing books and reading aloud to them is 8.  EIGHT.  A child of 8 is nowhere near an accomplished enough reader to be released completely unguided into the world of reading.  Rather than skipping over something they don’t understand, children need the opportunity to seek clarity otherwise they miss out on meaning.  And reading is rather pointless without meaning.

Take The Bolds by Julian Clary as an example; it’s marketed for 7 – 9 year olds.  It’s hilarious.  A family of hyenas living disguised as humans in a suburban semi-detached house.  Mr. Bold writes the jokes for a Christmas cracker factory and Mrs. Bold makes unusual hats out of junk.  There are jokes galore throughout the book but most 8 year olds will need a bit of help to understand some of the punchlines.  They may be able to decipher the words but if they don’t get the joke, it isn’t funny.  To want to read the experience must be pleasurable.

Comprehension becomes easier when a child has experience of the world and a broad and deep vocabulary.

Book-based discussion helps children gain experience of the world and build vocabulary.

Reading to or with a child for as long as you possibly can, regardless of their age or ‘reading’ ability, is key to growing a love of reading.  Assuming that a child no longer needs your input because they can now 'read' could mean they're missing out.