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Opinion: Don't despair if your child doesn't love to read – it's all about finding the right book

For every child who reads voraciously and indiscriminately, there is one who can’t relate to the books their parents are urging them to read. Solution? Find a book THEY love.

Aoife Murray

OFTEN WE AT Children’s Books Ireland hear from parents despairing that their son or daughter simply doesn’t enjoy reading and views it as a chore.

Generally parents wish their child to enjoy the books they themselves read as a child, classics like Little Women or The Secret Garden. But for every child who reads voraciously and indiscriminately, throwing themselves into fantastic or bygone worlds, we meet one who simply cannot relate to the books their parents are urging them to read. These are children and young people who read across a range of media and devices – they play video games, communicate with their friends on Facebook, follow their favourite stars on Instagram and YouTube and watch complicated TV shows. They are already sophisticated readers; they just need to locate the book that will get them hooked.

Key to reading for pleasure is locating the right book for the right child. A great starting point is your local public library or bookshop. The staff here have great knowledge of their stock and are experts in locating the right book for the right child. The Children’s Book Ireland Book Clinic is another great place to find out more about books for your child.

‘Is this book suitable?’

Another concern parents have is around age appropriateness, we are often asked if a particular book is suitable for a specific age group. This is a very difficult question to answer, as all children have different reading abilities, alongside their level of emotional intelligence required to understand and digest certain topics. The tried and tested solution is to read the book in question yourself. Parents are best placed to gauge their own child’s emotional intelligence – and you might find yourself enjoying the book, too!

Stories are for Everyone, Children’s Books Ireland’s nationwide reading promotion for children and young adults kicks off this month. Schools, libraries, and arts centres across Ireland will be enjoying everything from readings by authors to writing and illustration workshops, all for young readers. Irish picturebook creator and illustrator Chris Haughton’s eye-catching artwork highlights this message – that stories and reading are to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.

CBI aims to make books a part of every child’s life. Research from the UK National Literacy Trust shows that, as well as improving children’s literacy and numeracy skills at school, reading for pleasure has a significant link with a person’s happiness. Reading for pleasure has been revealed as the most important indicator of the future success of a child and has benefits for the individual, the family and the larger society. And as well as all that, it’s fun – the magic of being absorbed into the world of a brilliant book is something that every child has the right to experience.

Get your consultation at the Book Clinic

The Children’s Books Ireland Book Clinic is a pop-up event touring the country, providing guidance about books to children and their families.

The Book Doctor, a children’s book expert, clad in a white coat, meets the young reader and chats about books the young reader previously enjoyed, TV shows they watch, their favourite subject in school, anything that reveals something about the reader and their tastes and interests.

Once the consultation is over, the doctor completes and stamps a ‘book prescription’: a list of recommended books tailored to the individual. Book Clinic patients are then encouraged to bring their book prescription to their local bookshop or library to be filled.

The Book Clinic will be in several locations around the country during October and beyond; thanks to the Arts Council’s Touring and Dissemination of Work Grant and support from Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, the Book Doctors and their colleagues the Doodle Doctors will be making recommendations and encouraging creative doodling all over Ireland right through 2015.

Aoife Murray is the Programme and Events Manager at Children’s Books Ireland. See www.childrensbooksireland.ie for more details about the Book Clinic . 

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Aoife Murray

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