Reading for pleasure: inspiring children to read

November 30, 2021

Reading is not just something that children should do in school, it needs to be an everyday part of our lives and something we choose to do at all ages! Here’s why reading for pleasure is so important…

Dr Seuss once said, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”

We know from talking to many of our parents that often the biggest challenge is not simply getting their child to read at home, but to enjoy reading too! Often children will read a book set at Primary school, but are reluctant to pick up a book to read at home for pleasure. But the question “does your child read for pleasure?” is a phrase that can be surprisingly hard to define.


Young girl reading a book


What does reading for pleasure mean?

Reading for pleasure is something that we do of our own free will and get satisfaction from. Sometimes, someone might have originally asked us to read something but we continue because we’re interested in it! According to Nell (1988), reading for pleasure is a form of play that allows us to experience other worlds and roles in our imagination.

For children, reading for pleasure is reading that goes beyond their teacher’s reading expectations and is done to fuel their own curiosity and enjoyment. 


Why is it important to read for pleasure?

There are plenty of benefits for those who enjoy curling up with a book. A report carried out for The Reading Agency revealed convincing evidence that reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships with others, reduce the symptoms of depression and improve wellbeing throughout life.


Reading for pleasure research

Research has also shown that students who choose what and where they read tend to be more motivated, read more and show greater language and literacy development. The study by academics at the Institute of Education, part of the University of London, found that reading had the strongest effect on vocabulary development but the impact on maths and spelling was also significant.

Some key research findings…

  • Evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment (Clark 2011; Clark and Douglas 2011).
  • Pupils who read more are also better readers (Clark and DeZoya 2011)


Reading for pleasure benefits

Reading for pleasure has also been positively linked with an increase in the following literacy-related benefits for children:

  • Reading attainment, phonics and writing ability
  • Text comprehension and grammar
  • Improved spelling 
  • Breadth of vocabulary
  • Positive reading attitudes
  • Greater self-confidence as a reader
  • Pleasure reading in later life
  • Greater all-round academic success


Despite so many positive links, over recent years there has been a definite decline in children picking up a book outside of school. Some parents fear that the increased access to technology, like tablets and games consoles, has got in the way of children’s traditional love of reading. 

However, we can actually use technology to help capture children’s interest in books! Most children see using a tablet as a fun activity and therefore accessing literature in this way can increase their enjoyment and confidence, resulting in a positive impact on their reading.


Boys reading at home


Reading for pleasure KS2 book recommendations

The main thing to remember when helping your child find a book to read at home is to focus on their interests and passions. When children choose their own reading material they tend to be more motivated, so it helps if they lead the process!

From animals to action and adventure, here are some ideas to get you started…


Year 3

  • Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl 
  • The Invisible Boy – Trudy Ludwig 
  • My Secret Unicorn – Linda Chapman 
  • The Adventures of King Arthur – A Wilkes 
  • Revolting Poetry to Make You Squirm – Susie Gibbs 


Year 4

  • The Village Dinosaur – Phyllis Arckle 
  • The Snow Spider Trilogy – Jenny Nimmo 
  • Awful Auntie – David Walliams 
  • The Roman Mysteries: The Thieves of Ostia – Caroline Lawrence 
  • Earth Giant – Melvyn Burgess 


Year 5

  • The Hundred and One Dalmations – Dodie Smith 
  • Holes – Louis Sachar 
  • The Spud from Outer Space – Susan Gates 
  • War Boy – Michael Foreman 
  • Northern Lights – Philip Pullman 


Year 6

  • The Breadwinner series – Deborah Ellis 
  • Kensuke’s Kingdom – Michael Morpurgo 
  • The Diary of Anne Frank 
  • Killer Mushrooms Ate My Gran – Susan Gates 
  • Lionboy – Zizou Corder 


Find some more great children’s books in our reading list for children aged 7-11.


Young boy reading a book on the sofa


What is the best way to promote reading for pleasure?

The UK literacy school curriculum includes a focus on reading a wide range of texts to encourage reading and discussion. We know that certain elements promote a love of reading, such as freedom to choose reading materials, access to a variety of texts and quiet, comfortable places to read. Reading is not just something that children should do in school – it needs to be an everyday part of our lives and something we choose to do at all ages!


Supporting reading for pleasure: ideas

Looking for some fun ways to engage reluctant readers? Here are some ideas…

  • Start a reading challenge – each book or chapter completed wins them a prize or a fun activity
  • Let them choose their own reading material from your local library 
  • Try introducing your child to graphic novels or visually stimulating books to draw them into the story
  • Use technology to get them interested – from reading short stories on a tablet to watching the film alongside reading the book
  • Try reading aloud with your child to help bring stories to life
  • Encourage them to find books about their passions – from inspiring historical figures to books about their hobbies – if they are already interested in the subject matter, they are more likely to develop a love of reading


Has your child lost their love of reading or learning? Our English tuition delivered by expert English tutors can help them master their reading skills and feel inspired!

Help them develop a love of reading and stories in our tuition centres or online.

Book a free trial

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