Communicate with school staff
To help support your child with reading, talk with your child's teacher and school library staff.
- Discuss your child’s level of competence in reading with the classroom teacher.
- Share information about your child’s cultural identity, home languages, personal interests, and learning abilities. Tell them about the types of literacy experiences and activities that take place in your home and community and where you get books, magazines, multimedia, and digital resources. This information will help teachers and the school library provide inclusive reading programmes and appropriate forms of reading material.
- Share success stories about your child's reading mileage, enjoyment, and involvement in any community activities, such as public library holiday programmes and literacy events.
- Find out the benefits of reading for pleasure and ways you can support your child. This can range from reading with your children at home and by engaging in reading, writing and oral language activities in the classroom and library.
- Ask teachers and library staff for advice and support with any queries, such as tips for reading aloud, other reading strategies and reading recommendations.
Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.
— Schwalbe, 2016
Reading for pleasure — a door to success
Reading for wellbeing (hauora)
Have things to read at home
Children and teens read more when they are surrounded by books and other high-interest reading material.
The most obvious step [to creating readers] is to provide access to books.
— Krashen (2004).
Borrowing books and other resources
There are lots of options for borrowing books instead of buying them.
- Discuss with your child's school /school library your options for borrowing resources, e.g. read-aloud chapter books for bedtime reading.
- Ask the librarian for advice on culturally inclusive reading material — print, multimedia and digital, e.g. te reo Māori, Pasifika, and ESOL languages.
- Increase your knowledge of children's literature, ask for reading recommendations about authors, titles, genres and popular non-fiction.
- Use your public library — explore the range of resources e.g. books, large print books, eAudio books, eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, musical CDs, and DVDs of movies (including ones with captioned titles if your child has hearing disabilities).
- Also, look at the Ministry of Education's list of groups that provide library resources and digital collections for students with special education learning needs.
Groups that can support you — information from the Ministry of Education.
Build your home library
Ways you can build your home library are to:
- surround your home with books in a range of genre, magazines, newspapers and catalogues
- make story-boxes or bags that contain a storybook and items that correspond to items in the story
- swap books, comics and magazines with other families
- visit specialist children's booksellers, or bookshops with knowledgeable staff to discover the best resources available
- give gift books or book tokens for birthdays and Christmas
- buy second-hand reading material from shops or online
- get games and puzzles that require your child to read and follow instructions
- use everyday materials such as cookbooks, cereal boxes, websites, television adverts, telephone directories, and environmental print such as road signs, billboards, and logos.
eAudiobooks can be another great addition to your library.
Online, audio, and eBook resources
Goodnight Kiwi — celebrity storytellers read New Zealand bedtime stories.
Kiwi Kids News — latest news items and current events about NZ and overseas, selected for students and teachers.
NZ writers read — New Zealand Society of Author’s playlist of authors reading from their work (#NZWritersRead).
Pasifika dual language resources — books to support Pasifika new entrant students in English-medium classrooms. Many books are available as PDFs and all are available as MP3 audio files.
Poetry Box — Paula Green’s poetry site full of poems by and for children.
Storytime — Radio New Zealand provides a collection of New Zealand audio stories for children and teens.
The Māori Gods series — videos created by KIWA Digital voiced in te reo Māori as well as English.
ToiToi TV: — ToiToi aims to engage young writers and artists to participate in their own learning and encourage them to submit their work for publication. Toitoi TV showcases videos of kids reading kids’ stories and poems.
International Children’s Digital Library — digitised copies of print books from around the world in more than 50 languages, including a small selection in te reo Māori and Pasifika languages.
Free audio books — Open Culture's curation of free audio books includes many children’s classics.
Free eBooks — Open Culture's curation of free eBooks includes many children's classics.
Marvel comics — read comics online.
Storyline Online — The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s children’s literacy website streams videos featuring actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations.
The Graveyard Book — YouTube videos of Neil Gaiman reading aloud chapters 1–8 of his book.
Unite for Literacy — eBooks and audio books (fiction and non-fiction) in English and a variety of other languages for emerging readers.
Make time, place, and routines for reading
Make reading a regular part of home life. Ways to do this include:
- Reading for 15 minutes each day or being read to. Mem Fox says this helps children become excellent readers, writers and thinkers. It could be in 3 lots of 5 minutes. It isn’t much time but it makes a huge difference.
- Manage how much TV, gaming and other screen time your child has.
- Look at reading before bed, being snuggled in a chair or sitting together on the couch as a family, reading your own books on a weekend morning.
- Bedtime reading makes a big impact. Especially when children are read books with ideas and vocabulary at a higher level than they can read themselves. As they get better at reading, children will often gradually move to reading to themselves at bedtime. But they will still enjoy and benefit from being read to long after they can read to themselves.
- Bedtime stories can include a series of books for older children, as well as shorter stories of all kinds for young or old.
- Jim Trelease recommends 'the three Bs' — book ownership, bookshelves and a bedside lamp, with bedtime pushed out in favour of quiet reading time.
Mem Fox — an Australian writer of children's books and an educationalist specialising in literacy.
Jim Trelease — his goal is to help children make books into friends, not enemies.
Keep reading over summer and the holidays
Keep reading and writing happening over the school holidays and the long summer break. Many children, especially struggling readers, forget some of what they've learned or slip out of practice during the summer holidays. Reading to your child and encouraging them to read and write over the summer holidays helps prevent the 'summer slide' - when they lose the gains they've made over the year.
Read aloud every day
Reading aloud to your children every day will help them become great readers and listeners. But most of all they will love you for doing it with them and will remember your time reading together all their lives! When you read to your child, you are saying:
- I love you
- I value my time with you
- I love reading and think it is important.
the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children…
— Richard C Anderson (1985) 'Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading'
Listen to your children read aloud
Learn how to listen to your child reading aloud and what to do to help them. Here are some tips and resources you can use:
- Ask your child's teacher for some positive 'helping strategies'.
- Use the Pause Prompt Praise — Tatari Tautoko Tauawhi method.
- Encourage your child to share and retell family stories
- Encourage your child to read aloud to a pet or favourite toy.
Guidelines for listening to children read (pdf, 1.02MB)
Be a reading role model
Children learn by watching the adults around them. Parents and whānau are vital reading role models for children, and for boys, dads and other males are especially important. Things you can do include:
- Explain to your child why the simple act of reading for pleasure is so important yet an enjoyable way to spend time! (leads to improved literacy skills, vocabulary and knowledge of the world)
- Make sure your children see you reading — often parents do most of their recreational reading when their children are in bed.
- Look at including members of your wider whānau — grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other family members. Reading with grandchildren can be a special time for grandparents, cementing close bonds between the generations. Technology also makes it possible for long-distance grandparents to share books through video tools such as Skype and social networking tools.
- Provide opportunities for your child (and yourself) to share their experiences and successes. Allow time to talk about authors and titles, genres and series, share favourites, and identify 'read-alikes' (suggestions of similar titles your child may enjoy) using a website such as Brightly.
- When you make it clear that reading is part of your everyday life, you’ll find that reading becomes part of their lives too.
Talk about books
Talking about books helps children become readers too. Chat about what you are reading with your children, share favourites from your childhood, and:
- look at books and talk about the pictures
- talk about what you’ve just read
- point out interesting details in the illustrations
- predict or wonder what will happen next
- share feelings about the book
- tell your children your family’s own stories and encourage them to tell them to you too
- talk about reading we do all through the day — signs, recipes, and instructions.
Keep children and teens reading — let them choose books, make reading fun!
Let children choose books
One of the best ways to encourage your children to read is to give them plenty of things to choose from, time to read and look at books, and encouragement.
- Keep it light and easy.
- Don’t underestimate how much reading happens with comics, magazines or graphic novels.
- When a child hooks into a favourite series and reads them all their reading mileage soars.
Light reading often leads to heavier reading once the reading habit is formed. We all read in different ways and Daniel Pennac’s 'Reader's Bill of Rights' is a good message for all readers — young and old. The 10 rights are:
- The right to not read.
- The right to skip pages.
- The right to not finish.
- The right to reread.
- The right to read anything.
- The right to escapism.
- The right to read anywhere.
- The right to browse.
- The right to read out loud.
- The right to not defend your tastes.
Help your child figure out his or her interests by asking these questions: If a book were written just for you, what would it be about? If you could be an expert on any subject, what would it be? What are two things you are really curious about?
— Amy Friedman
Fun activities to explore when reading at home
- Try acting out parts of a story, perform some scenes from plays or other texts, use storytelling puppets.
- Look at using storytelling tools for your child to write their version of a story.
- Find activities and events at your school and public library you and your child participate in. For example, book clubs, poetry readings, Book Week, language weeks, holiday programmes and community celebrations.
- Some activities might also blend reading with activities and crafts where your child learns to use tools and materials and develops creative projects. Known as STEM/STEAM, these activities incorporate one or more aspects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths. You could look at similar activities to do at home.
Other activities include:
Keep tweens and teens reading
Teens are faced with multiple screen-based distractions (social media, gaming, and television) and more traditional demands for their time such as schoolwork, hanging out with friends, and sports.
It's more important than ever to support and encourage them to read for pleasure — not only for the significant educational benefits but as a highly effective way of relaxing and building empathy.
Tween readers — keeping them motivated
Engaging teens with reading
Resources — brochures, useful websites, public libraries
Services to Schools reading brochures
Read our brochures for tips and strategies for reading together with your children.
Guidelines for listening to children read (docx, 110KB)
Help your child become a reader — English (pdf, 1.4MB)
Āwhinatia tō tamaiti kia ako ki te pānui — te reo Māori (pdf, 1.4MB)
Fehoahoani ki tau tamaiti ke kavea ma tino faitau — Tokelauan (pdf, 263KB)
Fesoasoani i lau tama ia avea o se faitautusi — Samoan (pdf, 274KB)
Help your child become a reader — Arabic (pdf, 274KB)
Help your child become a reader — Hindi (pdf, 282KB)
Help your child become a reader — simplified Chinese (474KB)
Lagomatai e tama haau ke eke mo tagata totou — Niuean (pdf, 264KB)
Tauturu‘ia ta‘au tamaiti 'akariro'ia koe ei tangata tatau — Cook Island Māori (pdf, 261KB)
Tokoni‘i ‘a ho‘o tamá hoko ko ha tokotaha manako laukonga — Tongan (pdf, 279KB)
Books and reading at home
Bookstart — has themed booklists and 'Bookfinder, which gives recommendations based on age and types of books and interests.
Brightly — a site for families with reading and activity suggestions for babies through to teens.
Education.govt.nz for parents — tips from the Ministry of Education on helping your child learn at home.
GuysRead — a website to inspire boys' reading.
Kids and family reading report — looks at 'views of kids and parents on reading in the increasingly digital landscape and the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.'
LoveReading4Kids — a section of the LoveReading website solely for kids and young adults. It has book lists for different ages, videos, interviews, book reviews by kids, activities, and competitions.
Reading connects family involvement toolkit (pdf, 5.95MB) — the UK National Literacy Trust's free downloadable toolkit.
Reading Rockets — find great kids books and authors.
ReadKiddo Read — has been created by prolific US author James Patterson to help hook kids into reading.
The Sapling — a New Zealand website all about children's books with book reviews, articles, and interviews.
Top tips for engaging Dads — a one-page summary of great tips.
Words for Life — the UK Literacy Trust's website for families with tips, book suggestions, and communication milestones for babies and children.
World of Possible — has blogs, book lists, and tips for reading with your children.
As well as providing access to collections of print, eBooks, and audio books, public libraries offer a variety of other services for children and young people. These range from summer reading challenges and online book lists to fun, practical activities.
Auckland Council Libraries
Hamilton City Libraries
Wellington City Libraries
Christchurch City Council Libraries
Dunedin Public Libraries