Many teachers find it hard to encourage their students to take up a book to read willingly. While school children may participate in reading exercises, it takes a lot of hard work to make them read by themselves without the prompt of an adult. This stems from the fact that most school children don’t enjoy reading. But to become a lifetime reader, students need to be passionate about reading, says the UK’s National Literacy Trust. According to the National Literacy Trust, studies have shown that children who don’t love reading as children will find it hard to enjoy reading when they become adults. This is why is it essential to develop the culture of reading in children from a young age so that they can become book lovers when they grow up.
There are many strategies which experts have outlined to inculcate a reading culture in school children, and this piece will focus on some of the strategies that can help to bring about a strong reading culture among school children. These strategies can be used by teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop a love of reading in children.
Be a reading role model
According to Elena Aguilar, coach and author, one of the most important ways of encouraging kids to read is to set a reading example. If you want to increase the number of time kids spend reading, do more of reading yourself. Whether it’s reading for pleasure, for instruction, to get some information, and so on, read more. When children see their adults reading all of the time, they have more motivation to read when asked to do so.
Encourage voluntary reading
Another way of encouraging children to read is to provide time to allow them to read what they want to read irrespective of how simple or hard the subject. If a child chooses to read a text that is easy, don’t prevent him from reading it because it doesn’t meet your criteria. Give them access to a large collection of reading materials and encourage them to read whatever tickles their fancy. The increased volume of reading will bring about a deeper love of reading than restricting them to certain texts.
In Daniel Pennec’s book, Rights of the Reader, the author maintains that teachers, librarian, and parents can increase students’ joy of reading by making sure kids can decide when to read and when not to read. He also adds that students should be allowed to skip, leave a book unfinished, read anywhere they like, read aloud, read quietly, read anything, and reread a book among others.
Share your reading experiences with students
As a teacher or parent, you can encourage your kids to read more by telling them about your reading experiences, says Elena Aguilar. Tell your students about a book you finished recently, narrating the plot, and the roles played by the characters in the book, the lessons learned, and how you felt reading the book. You can even read out some parts of the book to the students to whet their appetite.
Organize reading challenges
Reading competitions can also be used to spur children to increase their reading. Schools and parents can do this using different strategies. According to Julia Ludgate, a teacher in Mountbatten School in Hampshire, her school chose 16 classics and challenged students to complete as many of the books as they can before their 16th birthday. Another teacher, Eleanor Webster encouraged her students to read as many books as they can during the summer holidays and take pictures of themselves reading. Many of the children brought photos of themselves reading in strange places such as in tractors, at holiday destinations, on roller coasters and so on. But care must be taken to ensure that the children don’t feel being pressured to read, as this can dampen the excitement and turn the activity into an unenjoyable routine.
Encourage students to socialize when reading
Reading can be more fun if it creates interaction among students. Teachers can set up literary circles, reading groups and book clubs where students can read and also interact among themselves. When they discuss the things they read, it increases their comprehension and enhances the reading experience.
Audio books can also be used to increase the love of books in children. Teachers can play audio books for their students instead of reading once in a while. Parents can also play audiobooks for kids at home. While audiobooks may not improve fluency and decoding skills, the children will enjoy the storytelling, and their comprehension and vocabulary acquisition is improved.
The list of strategies is quite long, but these are some of the best steps teachers and parents can use to develop a more profound love of reading in school children. Children who love reading will turn out to become adults who appreciate reading.
Aguila, E. (2013, February 13.) Ten ways to cultivate a love of reading in students. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web
Williams, M. (2014, June 3.) Back to school: How to encourage students to read for pleasure: teachers share their top tips. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web
Krishnamoorthy, T. (2011, October 11.) How to promote reading habits and skills in children. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web