World Book Night – inspiring children to read after the pandemic

World Book Night is a national celebration of reading and books which takes place on 23 April every year. Books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t regularly read, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters, as well as by passionate individuals who give out their own books within their communities.

In light of World Book Night, Intern Skyler Liegeot looks at tips for engaging children in reading in the wake of the pandemic, both at home and in the classroom.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s engagement in reading dropped with the transition to online learning. This calls for parents and educators alike to help inspire children and students to enjoy reading, to support the transition back to pre-pandemic reading levels.

Research from the University of Bedfordshire has shown that Covid-19 lockdowns, school closures and the switch to home learning have negatively impacted 90% of primary school children across the UK. Students and children are in need of engaging material and exercises to help improve literacy levels and reading habits.

Tips and exercises to help engage children and students to read

  • Reading together

Help engage your child by reading before bed or reading a book as a family to start conversation and motivate reading for pleasure. Implementing these habits can help improve children’s literacy and comprehension of the material. A fun exercise to do is having children draw a scene from the book they are reading and provide a summary of what they drew.

  • Fantasy and imagination, within reading

This can include drawing, wordless books, or even having children author their own books. This all helps with bringing the characters to life and with facilitating discussions about literature, which will help children engage with the material and let their imaginations flow.

  • Ask for their opinion about the book

This includes what they liked and disliked; what they would have changed; the best chapters and more. This can also include their reading experiences; if they enjoyed it, or thought it was boring; the pace; and what it got them to imagine. Switching up genres can also help inspire children and identify their interests and what they like reading.

  • Audiobooks

It’s a good idea to try some different methods to establish children’s interest in stories if they are struggling to enjoy reading. Audiobooks provide a great alternative to help them be engaged while absorbing material and stories. They are a way for children to hear the story unfold and imagine the characters. Playing audiobooks in the car or at night before bed is a nice activity for everyone to get involved in, and means families can all participate in discussions together.

  • Field Trips

Connecting books to places that you could easily visit with your child is a great way to get them interested in the story. Reading about different settings and places helps to facilitate conversation about the history, the impact of storytelling, and imagining what somewhere might be like before you go. This is beneficial in connecting stories with real-life experiences and helping children to engage with the material.

  • Book sharing

Whether through the classroom or the neighbourhood, book sharing is an effortless way to connect with other families and enjoy a greater variety of books.

These are a few tips and tricks to help facilitate inspiration and engagement with reading. Books provide a creative outlet, opening up new worlds and experiences that can provide children with different perspectives that may be completely different then their own. This World Book Night is a great opportunity to think about how to integrate reading into children’s daily routines, helping them to develop a love for the activity which will last a lifetime.


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