How to make time to read with your kids over Christmas

Finding time to read with your child over the festive period can be a struggle. Director of The National Literacy Trust, Jonathan Douglas, shares five simple steps you can take to help your kids discover a love of stories at Christmas.

Jonathan Douglas

Between all the shopping, cooking, and festivities, it can be hard to find time to maintain your child’s learning over the break. Plus, with all the excitement and time off school, children can have trouble focusing on anything other than Santa’s arrival!

A photo of a mother laying on the floor with her two daughters and reading to them with a Christmas tree in the background. The two girls are looking at their mother who is smiling back at them
Image: Getty

National Literacy Trust research shows that children who enjoy reading are more likely to do better at school and be happier with their lives. Encouraging a love of reading in your child all year round is vital for giving them the best possible chance of success in school and in life – but how can we fit it in during the Christmas rush?

Here are some simple things you can do to keep your child’s enjoyment of reading going over the Christmas break.

1. Read Christmas stories as a family

There are a huge number of stories that you and your child can read together to get you in the festive spirit, whether they’re new releases or classic tales. Why not read a chapter or part of a story each night in the lead-up to Christmas, with family members taking turns to read? Splitting up a story like this creates cliffhangers that leave children wanting to hear more and establishes a reading routine that you’re more likely to keep up.

2. Give books as gifts

Our research shows that children who have a book of their own are much more likely to read above the level expected for their age than children who don’t own a single book. Unwrapping a brand new book as a Christmas present can emphasise to children how special books are, and having a good selection of their own books to choose from will encourage them to read more in their free time.

3. Try audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to help children access the incredible world of stories, particularly children who find reading difficult. They’re also good entertainment for the whole family! There are so many brilliant children’s audiobooks available – why not put one on in the car when you’re out shopping with your child or on your way to visit family and friends over Christmas?

4. Switch off

Try to resist the lure of all that great Christmas TV! Having dedicated story time with your child where you switch off all technology, like TVs and phones, means that you can all focus on the story without any distractions.

5. Don’t stress!

Christmas can be a stressful time as it is, so don’t worry too much about whether you’re doing the ‘right’ amount of reading with your child over the holidays. Research shows that reading with your child for just ten minutes a day is enough to make a difference, and it doesn’t need to be ten minutes at once – little and often is just as beneficial.

Amidst the busy Christmas period, it can be easy to give in to the festive learning slump – but with these tips, you’ll see that Christmas can actually be the perfect time to help your child fall in love with reading.

Visit the National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life website for more ideas and activities to get your child reading this Christmas.

Puffin Christmas gift guide

Find gift inspiration and ideas for children with our selection of festive books. Plus, we have a host of fun activities to get you in the Christmas spirit.

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