A summer of talk and reading

The term ‘word gap’ is used to describe how children with a smaller vocabulary than others are disadvantaged in a range of ways. There are two main ways you can support your child and help them to build their vocabulary – by encouraging reading for pleasure, Here we share a range of ideas to help you this summer.

5 ways to encourage reading for pleasure:

  1. Really free reading: All reading is good reading, so encourage your child to read whatever and wherever at home. Join thousands of children around the world photographing themselves in unusual and unlikely places simply reading a good book. Look up ‘extreme reading’ for inspiration.
  2. Vlogging: If your child loves making videos, film them reviewing a book they have read, or encourage them to make their own adaptations of books with Lego figures, sweets, or even fruits and vegetables as characters.
  3. Graphic Designer: Children often enjoy designing mini-magazines, websites, or book covers. Encourage yours to make their own featuring a favourite author, character, or non-fiction topic. Make a paper version or try free online templates such as Wix and magazine tools like Canva.
  4. 13 before you’re 13: If your child is motivated by targets or prizes, set them a reading-based challenge. Can they read 13 books – in a category of their choice – before they are 13? These could be classic novels, comics, famous books, etc. Decide whether there is a prize at the end.
  5. Audiobooks and apps: Try audiobooks if your child is a reluctant reader or even just for a change. You can access thousands of audiobooks online or via apps. Listening to music, podcasts and radio shows make great alternatives.

5 ways to talk more:

  1. Watch TV together – and talk about what you’re watching like the families on Gogglebox. Discuss any new words or things that you find interesting.
  2. Become more word conscious – use ‘adult’ words in normal conversation, and take time to explain what they mean. Praise your child if they use an interesting or unusual word: ‘Great choice of word!’ or ‘You just used a really interesting word’ or ‘I love that word!’
  3. Play word games together. Pictionary, Taboo or charades can be played easily at home with just a piece of paper, or try board games such as Articulate, Upwords, Hedbanz, Trivial Pursuit, Quiddler, or Bananagrams that involve new words.
  4. Create book boxes, and leave them around the house in places people often sit, such as in the loo, by the sofa, on a table, or near the bath. Fill them with anything you think others would like to read (magazines, newspapers, football annuals, comics, cookbooks etc.).
  5. Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) is something that many primary and secondary schools do to encourage reading and develop vocabulary. Try this at home one evening together to show your child that reading is a type of entertainment too. Add popcorn and treats, or tuck yourselves up with pillows and pyjamas.

These ideas have been adapted from a resource pack created by Oxford University Press in collaboration with Teachit. Find more ideas for increasing vocabulary and closing the word gap on our website.