Advanced search

Share tips on encouraging children to read and WIN a full set of Wimpy Kid books!

(67 Posts)
ChrissieMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Sep-14 13:46:18

To coincide with National Literacy Week (8 -14 September) we’re giving away ten full sets of the international bestselling children’s book Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Share your tips on how to engage reluctant readers to be in with a chance to win!

If you’ve ever spent hours pleading, bargaining or even bribing your DC to read, or practice their reading, then you’ll know what a challenge this can prove to weary parents. Sometimes all you need is a little incentive; and to find the right books to start. The much loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid series mixes words with black and white cartoons, which has often led to an improvement in children’s engagement with reading, even kick-starting their independent reading journey. Mumsnet and Puffin books want you be a part of the Wimpy Kid success story.

To enter our competition, we’d like to hear your stories and advice on how you helped a child to read; the more innovative, the better! And if Wimpy Kid has improved your child’s literacy (and perhaps saved your sanity!) then please share your experiences in the thread below. We look forward to reading!

This competition is sponsored by Puffin books. The publication of the ninth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is 5 November 2014.

Leeds2 Mon 08-Sep-14 17:32:54

I work as a volunteer in a primary school library, and the children are close to fighting over who gets to borrow these books! Even the reluctant readers. I think it is because they are funny, but also not too many words to a page and broken up with lots of line drawings.

I think some children do not enjoy reading stories (boys in particular), but this seems to be all that is on offer in a lot of classrooms. Many are much more interested if they can read about something factual. In my library, dinosaurs, space, cars and football are popular.

I don't have many graphic books, but these do seem to be popular with the reluctant readers. Would also suggest reading age appropriate comics or magazines, as somehow these are not as daunting as a "proper" book.

I don't own a kindle, but have noticed at school that lots of children who do not borrow any library books (it isn't compulsory) often have a kindle, which they have on a setting where there aren't many words per page. Seems to work, even with the older ones.

jes73 Mon 08-Sep-14 18:13:03

My children love reading now. In the beginning, I had to hound them to read and I just couldn't understand why they didn't like reading. It seemed they could not get over not having pictures in the books.
Now my daughter loves reading and the Wimpy Kid books have helped as they have pictures.
The children did not enjoy the books from the library as they were often torn and grimy.
I bought them new books asked them to smell them (have you ever sniffed a new book - I love the smell!) and then we started making patterns in our book case - in colours (red, blue, green, yellow etc) The children had loads of fun buying books in the next colour of the pattern and then started reading them too. Work done and I have a colourful bookcase. ;)

mishroo Mon 08-Sep-14 19:15:26

my eldest was a breeze with reading but my middle son has struggled hes much more interested in anything else rather than reading.
I abandoned the school books at first and found he was much more interested in things like going out to eat and i would get him to read the menu to decide what he chose,reading street signs,newspapers. I also found he engaged with comics particularly the phoenix comic.
in these days technology does help and having kindles means he is more likely to engage with that over an actual book and at the end of the day its all about getting them to read it doesn''t matter how you get there.

barricade Mon 08-Sep-14 19:29:24

The "Diary Of A Wimpy Kid" are real winners with reluctant readers, especially with young boys.
The books are presented in a delightful way, with cartoon illustrations, diary/scrap-book extracts, and 'notebook-like' mid page border designs. Similar to books like "The Spiderwick Chronicles", "The Legend Of Frog", and "The Great Pet-Shop Panic", these design elements significantly enhance the reading experience.
The text itself is, at times, very immature - but in a good way. After all, there's no doubt that this book is intended for adolescents, containing the sophomoric humour of modern-day kids. This is another reason why these stories are perfect for reluctant young readers of both gender, and leaves them wanting more.
Plus, they've produced 3 film adaptations, all based on the first 3 books, which all members of the family can enjoy.

TIP ONE:- We showed the children the first film --> they couldn't wait to follow that up by reading the subsequent books in the series (including the first one to get the story in print form)
TIP TWO:- We used line drawings depicting the characters to create our own animated flip books (where the characters appear to be moving). This generated interest in the characters and the books.
TIP THREE:- We followed this up with creating our own mini-comic book. And book marks. And 2-D stand-ups against background to create 3-D stop motion animation (with Digital Blue cameras & Windows Movie Maker). Etc., etc. However, this time the tasks were completed with characters from different books --> the aim was for children to be able to retell the story contained in new books to people who hadn't read them before.

Emrob86 Mon 08-Sep-14 20:20:57

Encourage children to read by being enthusiastic about books and reading yourself. Be a good role model and let them see you reading, go to the library or the book store together and choose some books for both of you.

Kids want to be like the adults they look up to and you can inspire them by being a reader yourself.

I also suggest creating a nice and cosy reading environment - lots of cushions, a reading light and a special shelf for your kids' books. A special book bag (and a book mark and a wallet for their very own library card) for each child could make things more fun too! smile

katb1973 Mon 08-Sep-14 21:32:06

One of my sons is a reluctant reader and is still a work in progress. What has made a real difference to his enthusiasm for reading has been a labour of love. He is really interested in animals fortunately and I have made a box full of things that are particularly NOT books for him to read. Cut out backs of cereal boxes, cards from National Geographic kids magazines, bits and pieces printed out in colour from the internet from particularly zoo websites, Top Trumps cards, you name it, we've got it. Then, when it's time for daily reading, we get out the box and he chooses things that appeal to him at that time to read. Sometimes we read them together, sometimes he wants to ponder on his own, but as long as he's engaging with the text in some form, I'm happy. I then make up for the lack of book reading at bedtime and in the mornings when I read for him and these days he's far more keen to join in.

500internalerror Mon 08-Sep-14 21:37:45

Don't turn reading into a chore, don't enforce it when your child is tired.

Graphic novels are less daunting in appearance. And audio CDs are great for sparking enthusiasm.

Turn a trip to the library into a regular routine, special bag & a cafe treat on the way home.

missorinoco Mon 08-Sep-14 21:43:03

Reading has always been part of the evening ritual for us. When they started to read, we included the children reading also. What has kept us going has been not pushing it. So if they are very tired, (or we are), one well read page will do.

Also, I am starting to think it very much depends on the child as to what they read spontaneously. One child would happily read a book to her pretend school, whilst for the other he is more likely to read a Star Wars annual than a story. I need a Diary of a Wimpy Kid type revelation moment for him, I'm just trying not to force it.

HappyMum4 Mon 08-Sep-14 21:47:40

I found my first two took to reading like a duck to water but my third wasn't nearly as keen. It concerned me especially as the first two had developed a passion independently. After trying a variety of methods looked up on the Internet, and not really getting very far, we found, really by accident, that a way that worked for us was actually making up the stories with her, from her imagination, involving the kinds of things she was interested in, and writing them or typing them and then she would add her own pictures, so in effect we would make her own book which she would then try to read back to us. As time went on the stories became more detailed and they always changed, so it was a new story every time.

RememberYoureAWomble Tue 09-Sep-14 10:37:49

Comics and cartoon style books, such as Asterix and Tintin have been great. Before we started having lots of these around the house my DS (just turned 7) was very reluctant to read himself, though he has always loved having stories read to him. Now he can sometimes be seen reading Asterix to himself.

He is still reluctant to make the jump to reading any kind of chapter book though - he clearly considers this a big step. I'm just trying to relax about it and let him make the move in his own time, but we did say that now he has started at junior school he has to read to DH or me for 5 minutes every night. We deliberately made it a very short time to start with as we have never managed to establish a really regular reading habit before and even 5 minutes met with quite a bit of resistance the first couple of days. We do time the 5 minutes and stop at the end of the paragraph or sentence we are on when the 5 minutes is up and DS does ask me whether I am timing it - he seems to find it reassuring that he only has to do 5 minutes and then he has finished. Once he has really got used to this I plan to increase the time one minute every week or two until we get up to 10-15 mins a night.

One other thing I discovered very recently is that he thinks books with black and white pictures are harder than books with colour pictures. So at the moment we are sticking to some first readers we have that are produced by Sainsburys - these have short chapters with lots of colour pictures. I'm hoping that once he sees that he can finish chapters, and hopefully a whole book, with these that he won't find chapter books so daunting.

jj21 Tue 09-Sep-14 12:40:56

Our eldest loves stories and picture books but is an incredibly reluctant reader (who also has lots of difficulties with reading). So we have made friends with the local library, and make sure we always have lots of books available that he is interested in. Lots of pictures so he can just look and not worry about reading it at all, and we don't worry about the books being rather too young for him. The pictures give him lots of visual clues to help him if he does try to read. He will choose fiction in the form of graphic novels or cartoon/comic style if possible. He can get almost the whole plot from these without ever reading a word if he chooses.
Whatever his current interests, we get lots of non fiction books about these.
He loves stories, so even though he is now 11 we read to him every night, books that are at the right level interest/age-wise, and make audio books available, so he is still exposed to the higher level vocabulary and ideas they contain. He will often attempt to read books like the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' series sometimes, partly because they have lots of pictures, and, bizarrely, because the print does not look like print!
We have subscribed to the Phoenix and Beano comics as these are also less threatening, and he really enjoys them - sometimes he reads them, more often we read them to him.
He will not read aloud to us, despite bribery, coercion and threatened sanctions, so we have given up asking. If we don't ask him to, he will often at least look at books by himself.
When he doesn't want to look at books at all, we don't push it. But we make other options available - he likes to cook, so we get him to follow a recipe, or check what packets say; if we are going for a day out, we get him to help us look things up on the internet or in leaflets to aid our planning. We might let him do some 'research' on the internet about a pop group he likes or a tv programme or whatever if he is off books. Reading road signs, notices on notice boards, rules for a board game, cribs for Minecraft, adverts in shops, the backs of packets and jars, maps - anything he will read without argument - it is all reading and will help improve reading.
When he was younger (he is now 11) I made small 'books' in powerpoint about whatever he was interested in. One picture plus a few words on each page which I thought he could probably read. He loved these, but we do this less now his reading is getting better.
Overall though, I think the single thing which has helped most, is continuing to read to him every night - it has taken the pressure off him whilst demonstrating how brilliant books can be and letting him enjoy the stories (or facts).
Finally, despite being a total bookworm myself, I try really hard to remember that we are all different. What worked for my other DCs has not worked for him. Despite my desire to have them all as passionate about reading as I am, why should they be? They are their own people and as long as they can read well enough that is OK. Despite his complete refusal to read a lot of the time, he has learned to read. And that is enough.

Rhimchugh Tue 09-Sep-14 16:20:39

We buy new books as treats- a reward when the kids have been good. We found that makes them want to read- more useful than chocolate too!

TheHouseatWhoCorner Tue 09-Sep-14 16:32:44

Like Rhimchugh we use books as rewards.
We take part in the library summer reading challenge. We buy/borrow books that have the same theme as her current interest/hobby/recent visit eg ballet books or nonfiction about insects following a recent trip to Butterfly World.
She sees us reading and there are books scattered around the house.

InMySpareTime Tue 09-Sep-14 16:45:01

As a storyteller and author myself, I encourage lots of children to read! I find the best ways are to dramatise stories to make them come alive for the children, or for more reluctant readers, to find books about their interests and meet them halfway.
DS got in trouble at school because he wouldn't leave the construction area to do literacy at the literacy table. When the teacher told me, I suggested she left writing/reading materials in the construction area so he could access them without leaving what he was interested in. I donated books on construction to the school and DS's literacy improved within weeks.

gildedlily Wed 10-Sep-14 12:25:28

My children are still quite young - 5 and 6 - so I've got the "not wanting to read years" still to come. At this stage I think there is a lot to be said for sharing stories - reading to them, taking turns to read a page and making up stories. I think modelling is good too so they see that reading is a "normal" thing to do. My older child is also really motivated by the summer reading scheme run by the library.

Firewall Wed 10-Sep-14 16:54:27

A very good way of engaging young readers I found is to use books with topics they are interested in, be it tractors and trucks/ fairies/ princesses and allow the child to explore them when it takes their fancy, encourage it through play and make it fun!

Another tip is to use interactive books online or iBooks which are fun and kids can really engage with the story by tapping or even 'roaring' along to the story!

Hopezibah Wed 10-Sep-14 21:40:06

Firstly we adore wimpy kid books and when I say we, I mean the whole family. They are hilarious and fun to read alone and together as there is so much that families can relate to.

My top tip would be never ever force a child to read. It can put them off reading forever. Just make it fun and for pleasure (not to get them up to the next reading level).

Starting young really helps - just sharing books, enjoying them, giggling at pictures, talking about things you've read together.

Story sacks and props can help (you don't need to buy expensive ones) - make your own eg an empty box of porridge, a doll and three different sized cuddly bears all in a pillow case with a goldilocks and the three bears storybook.

For older children, perhaps make an effort to visit a real place you've read about in a fictional book or cook a recipe based on a story you read.

Reading should never be boring and never be forced - make it fun and read kids books yourself and they'll soon want to join in.

sharond101 Thu 11-Sep-14 13:08:47

Stickers, props, silly hand moves, reading about favourite tv characters, making a special time of day and a special place to read, going to the library more often.

poopoopoo Thu 11-Sep-14 16:04:30

I go to the local boot sale and get books for my children, then give away the ones we don't want anymore to the local charity shop; this way they are exposed to a wide variety of books and we have loads. We read together every night and try to make time for this. I love funny stories and rhyming stories, this seems to have encouraged my kids and they get excited about jumping under the duvet ready for the story. The original Dr Suess books were some we started with, then the winnie the witch, mr men, the gruffalo, Rauld Dahl.... So many great stories. I wish I had more time.
My little boy is still not so keen on reading for himself (he is 5) but school want to see that he has read every night. My little girl loves reading. Is it a boy/girl thing??? Though, when I think about it, my little boy does not do many things he is supposed to when I ask!
I think the best advice I could give myself would be "don't worry about it" he will get there when he is ready. Just enjoy your time with your children, keep reading with them and have fun.

rocketjam Thu 11-Sep-14 16:21:58

Both my boys (7 and 8 years old) have read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, but the best tip I have ever received is to find books that are of interest to the child in question. My mother in law thinks that my kids should read The Famous Five and is absolutely appalled by me getting them the entire series of Horrid Henry... Both my children started getting interested in books when they figured out that you could get interesting fact books about fast cars, airplanes, the army, anything with an engine, and books that will make them laugh such as Billionaire Boy (or any book by David Williams - the guy is a genius). The key is to find books that your child really likes. Forget about school books!!

I have spent some months volunteering in a small community-run library in Guatemala, in a very run down and poor area. As a volunteer, I used to listen to children reading any book they liked, and then write down the book title and pages read on a board - and the children would get rewards - small shampoo bottles, little toys, hair brush, soap, toothbrushes, etc. They could either spend their 'points' in a small item or accumulate their points to buy something big, like a football or a book. The staff at the library ran special after school clubs to help children with their homework, and all of this was supported through charity donations. This is a very practical way of encouraging young children to read, children who otherwise have no support at home (illiterate parents) and no help with homework. I am not sure exactly why I am writing about that here, but it's the first thing that came to my mind when I read about encouraging children to read to make a real, tangible difference to their future! The charity still exist, it's called Open Windows, here's the website: It's not a UK charity, so I am not writing about this to get any donations, just to say that encouraging reading in young children can have a huge effect on their future.

Leeds2 Fri 12-Sep-14 19:27:53

Rocket that sounds like a fabulous charity.

I used to volunteer in a charity shop, and they were very fussy about the books they would accept for sale. Too fussy imo, but that is another matter! Anyway, any books they didn't want, whatever the condition, were collected weekly by a local church (shop didn't have much storage), amalgamated with other donations and shipped out to schools in Africa. It was a specific country(several schools) but I don't remember which one. They said that the schools were desperate for anything to read.

Taffeta Fri 12-Sep-14 19:33:08

I have struggled getting my DS (10) to enjoy fiction.

He did enjoy Wimpy Kid and David Walliams, and some Roald Dahl but he's a superbly fussy reader.

I recently started the you read one page I will read the next, and the book I got him was Wonder.

It is a totally stunning book and we both look forward to bedtime now.

rach0007 Fri 12-Sep-14 20:17:47

One of the best ways to encourage children to read is through using books that have characters which are relatable to them. When children can make connections with the experiences and realities of the characters, the become engaged in the novel. It is also helpful to begin a Minds On Activity before beginning the novel. This helps prepare them for the context of the novel, which builds intrigue and anticipation before reading. Feel free to continue the talk on reading at the blog at <a href="> Thornhill English Tutor</a> for discussions on education and diversity.

rach0007 Fri 12-Sep-14 20:19:37

One of the best ways to encourage children to read is through using books that have characters which are relatable to them. When children can make connections with the experiences and realities of the characters, the become engaged in the novel. It is also helpful to begin a Minds On Activity before beginning the novel. This helps prepare them for the context of the novel, which builds intrigue and anticipation before reading. Feel free to continue the talk on reading at the blog at Thornhill English Tutorfor discussions on education and diversity.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: