by Corinne Lamoral, a freelance writer and editor living with her husband and three children on a beautiful koppie in Johannesburg. Her ingenious idea of the day is Eau de New Book. She would wear it everyday.

Being a bookworm I was bewildered when I had not one but two children who didn’t seem to love reading.  They loved being read to, and could read well, but choosing a book over running outside, playing with lego or watching TV? Not so much.

Research shows that well-read children have an improved vocabulary and general knowledge, are more world-aware, have more empathy, and are better overall students.   I also think reading is a life tool – you’ll never be lonely or bored with a book in your hand.

So I persevered. I brought lots of books – many second hand – so it didn’t matter too much if they didn’t love them. We visited the local library and I tried not to moan when books were returned half read.  I tried different genres – from horsey to sci-fi and friendship dramas. When they yelled ‘I’m bored’, I yelled back – ‘read a book!’

And then came the breakthrough – one December holiday my eldest daughter, then 10, watched her older cousins sit and devour books like little book vampires.

My daughter was intrigued and left out – so she started to read.  Snuck in a corner on the couch she finished her first book and quietly began the next, then the next, and then the next… She was hooked.

Now my 8 year old has found her way to books too, and I’m in luck with the third, because he’s a born bookworm just like me – and we are finally becoming a book reading family!

10 Reading Tips

Gill Haggis, a former teacher and founder of Imaginate  where stories are springboards for creative art and craft adventures, has these essential tips to nudge your children’s reading habits:

1. Create opportunities by surrounding them with books and reading to them often, from birth.

2. Make a book corner in your home where they can curl up and read.

3. Lead by example. Let your children see you and your partner reading.

4. Encourage them to try lots of different books to find the stories and authors they love.

5. Create a story language in your family by referring to books and their lessons.  For example, be brave and clever like the mouse in The Gruffalo.

6.In the beginning encourage reading of anything and everything – from road signs and DVD captions to the backs of cereal boxes and cook book recipes.

7. Buy books and book vouchers as presents.

8. Buy audio books for struggling readers and expose them to the magic of stories.

9. Create a children’s book club so they can swop and try different books.

10. Relax.  Make reading happy, not a chore and don’t give up on them!

Click here to find a list of places that sell books, magazines and audiobooks for kids on Jozikids

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