How you can help your child to make progress in reading

We read for relaxation, for information, for education and for our own personal and intellectual development. The best way to show children the many different uses of reading is to set an example. Make sure that your children see you reading for a wide range of purposes - books, magazines and newspapers.

Join the library and establish a routine of library visits. As children grow up, they can take responsibility for the books they select - and for returning them on time! - but always take an interest in their choice. Take time to read with them and talk about whether and why the book was enjoyable or suitable.

Involve yourself in your child's reading progress. Check with his form teacher that you are doing all you can to encourage his reading. Don't stop reading with your child simply because she is now a competent reader.

Reinforce reading skills by playing word games such as I Spy and The Minister's Cat, reading street signs, shop fronts or identifying the letters in car plates.

There is a wonderful range of books on cassette for children of all ages. They will distract everyone from the tedium of a long journey, may provide an incentive for less confident readers to tackle a book themselves and are a useful alternative to a bed-time story. Most libraries have a range to borrow.

Invest in books for the whole family to take on holiday.

Helping your Child to become a Real Reader

Real reading for meaning and enjoyment can seem worlds away from the tricky business of learning to read - decoding those funny-looking squiggles on the page. Help your child to become a real reader by sharing all kinds of stories with her, reminding her of the many reasons why we learn to read.

Keep dictionaries to hand in order to uncover the meaning of unfamiliar words. Show your child that even grown-ups don't always know the meaning of some words!

Establish bookshelves with books for the whole family in the living room, together with personal libraries in your child's bedroom.

Give books for birthdays and encourage others to do the same. Older children will enjoy the freedom a Book Token gives, but take an interest in their choice.

When choosing books for your child, ask booksellers and librarians for help and guidance.

If you are worried about your child's reading ability, contact his teacher and discuss progress with him. No matter what the problem, don't stop sharing stories together - it is very important that children aren't put off books simply because they can't read them.

Sometimes children return to books which you may feel they should have outgrown. Don't worry - it is very often a desire to regain confidence by going back to stories and words with which they are familiar.

Children rarely learn to read in a very organised way, progressing steadily, getting better and better and reading increasingly challenging books. A single book, simply because it hit just the right note at the right time, may raise their expectations of books dramatically in the space of a few hours, bringing them on in leaps and bounds. Equally, they may remain on a reading 'plateau' for some time. Most children combine these two approaches to reading.

Try to give your Child a Balanced Reading Diet

Try to give your child a balanced reading diet - a mix of fun, fact, fantasy and fiction. Comics are often splendid ways of reminding a disenchanted reader what fun reading can be - try to be relaxed but interested about your child's reading materials.

The transition from primary to secondary school often causes children to stop reading for pleasure - there are so many more demands on their time and probably no time allotted in the school timetable for personal reading. It may help to allocate family time to reading, to bridge this common gap.

Don't forget non-fiction! Facts can be every bit as entertaining as stories and are particularly useful in encouraging less enthusiastic readers. Even reluctant readers will read if they are sufficiently fired up by a topic and non-fiction generally has a helpful balance of words and pictures.

Don't forget to use your Local Library

Don't forget to visit your local library. It's a great source for books and they won't cost you a penny.

The library will also have a large selection of non-fiction books which are often of particular interest to boys. Keeping your child interested in reading is really important.

Questions you can ask your child while reading

Once your child has learnt the basics of reading, its time to begin to develop their wider reading skills.  Just listening to your child read is no longer the main priority.  You will want to support them in comprehending what the writing is about, both the literal and the inferred.  You will want to develop their understanding of the punctuation used, and why the writer chose to use that particular grammar or punctuation.  You will want to extend your child’s vocabulary and ‘magpie’ phrases for use in their own writing.

All pupils are part of a regular reading group, which is designed to increase their reading stamina and to give opportunities to develop all of the above.  Your involvement at home can greatly improve your child’s progress and eventually their attainment.

What follows are a series of questions which you can begin to use with your child to enhance their reading and writing skills:

Fiction Questions.


  • Where does the story take place?
  • Does the title, front cover or synopsis give clues about the story?
  • When did the story take place?
  • What are your first impressions of ... ?
  • What does he/she look like?
  • Where does he/she live?
  • What is happening at this point in the story?
  • Read the part that tells me ...
  • How do you feel about ... ? Why?
  • Can you explain why ... ?
  • Do you think this is true/untrue?  Why do you think this?
  • What do you think the ... is thinking?  If it were you what would you be thinking?
  • Predict what you think is going to happen next.  Why do you think this?
  • Can you tell me what you feel about ... ?
  • What do these words mean and why do you think the writer chose them?
  • How has the author used adjectives to describe this character?
  • Look at the verbs/adjectives/adverbs, what do these words tell us about ... ?
  • Why did the author choose this title?
  • Do you want to read the rest of the text? How does the writer encourage you to read the rest of the text?

Please remember that you need only ask a few of these questions each time you read with your child.  Please also remember that your child should be given opportunity to read silently to themselves each session- this should be for about 20 minutes.

Once your child has read you may also ask some of the following questions:


After Reading

  • Can you think of another story that has a similar theme e.g. good over evil, weak over strong, wise over foolish?
  • Was the book easy to get into?
  • Through whose eyes is the story told?
  • Who are the key characters in the book?
  • What happened in the story?
  • What kinds of people are in the story?
  • How did one of the characters change during the story?  
  • Were you surprised by the ending?
  • How did you think it would end/should have ended?
  • What was the most exciting part of the story?  Which is your favourite part? Explain your answer as fully as you can?
  • What would this character think about ... ? (Possibly a present day issue)
  • If you were going to interview this character/author, which questions would you ask?
  • Who would you like to meet most in the story? Why?
  • What do you know about the author or illustrator?


Here are some more questions which you may ask your child when they are reading a non-fiction book.



  • How does the way the title is written encourage you to read the ... ?
  • How have the different parts of the text been made clear?
  • How do you know where to find information?
  • Why have these words been made to stand out?
  • What are the subheadings for?
  • Why has some of the information been presented as a table?
  • Where did you find the information about ... ?
  • What information have you learnt?
  • Which information do you think everyone else in your class should know?
  • Read the part that tells me ...
  • Can you explain why ... ?
  • Do you think this is true/untrue?  Why do you think this?
  • Is there anything that you don’t understand.
  • Explain what is happening in the picture
  • Which part was the most interesting?



We want your child to develop a love of reading.  We would ask that you use these questions sensitively.  A few regularly, rather than a large number all at one time.

We would expect your child to read on a daily basis at home for about 30 minutes, in a quiet and comfortable place.

Hopefully you will encourage your child to develop a love of reading, whether it’s a comic, magazine, newspaper or car manual!