How do you turn kids into bookworms? All 10 children's laureates share their tips

The Guardian has published an article on 11 May 2019 titled 'How do you turn kids into bookworms? All 10 children's laureates share their tips', available here. Michael Morpurgo, Quentin Blake, Julia Donaldson and more reveal the books that inspired them and how to keep children interested in a world of digital distractions.

Extracts from the article follow:

Ted Hughes: A fine children's book is as important and worthwhile as any kind of literature, and maybe more so. Read and love a great story or poem when you're young and the chances are that you'll become a reader for life...

Anne Fine: Children have never been famed for taking sensible advice, but are superb at following a poor example. So if a parent spends most of their own time peering at screens, they can scarcely expect anything different from their offspring. Add to this the fact that all studies show that children who are read to every night do better in school – even in maths. Maybe you can't dump your phone, but at least give them that one half-hour in the day totally uninterrupted. And start young. ... Bedtime reading fosters security, intimacy and understanding. The library makes it cheap, and it's already easy.

Jacqueline Wilson: Reading aloud to small children is a way to get them to associate a book with fun and pleasure and attention. Most toddlers love to cuddle up on a lap and point at the pictures and join in with a well-loved text. When children can read for themselves, it's still a delight to read an exciting long challenging book they wouldn't want to tackle alone.

Michael Rosen: One key barrier is the overprescriptive and narrow testing regime in primary schools. It inhibits teachers from reading with children in a relaxed open-ended way. The test questions are too narrow, too yes-no. The way forward is for schools to try to spend as much time implementing a wide ranging, fully inclusive reading for pleasure programme. It must involve the whole school community including parents, grandparents and carers – a cultural in-school and out-of-school policy.

Anthony Browne: Talking and listening and laughing with children are some of the most important ways to spend time together, and a book can be as engaging as a toy or a screen if they are part of a shared experience.

Malorie Blackman: If we want children to learn, to grow by understanding and having empathy for others, to thrive, then we must encourage them to read for pleasure. Let your children see you reading. Read to them. Let them read to you. Don't criticise what they are reading or how long it may take them.

Chris Riddell: With funding cuts and budget pressures, there is a risk of librarians becoming an endangered species and that would be a tragedy for our children. It is essential that the government recognise the skills that librarians give to the community they serve, not just in schools but in public libraries as well – giving everyone, from every background, access to books.

Lauren Child: The pressure on schools to achieve certain things means there isn't much time for reading or even just to unwind. There isn't time in the day to just sit and talk about books and stories. Children need to get into the habit of hearing stories and of having books around them. They need to be confident in spaces where books are a familiar thing and to have opportunities to engage with books and look at illustrations. That could be through libraries or having books in the classroom, or authors and illustrators coming into schools regularly.

Posted: Monday 13 May 2019