One of the most fundamental academic competencies childrenare expected to master in early childhood is reading. In many ways, this iswhat sets the stage for more the more formal learning process and contributesgreatly to one’s success in the classroom. However, while many children areable to master basic reading skills, it is not uncommon that this remains amechanical practice rather than one that is done for pleasure or for the loveof it. Many children read very little, in fact. While they may complete theirschool work (and may even do well many times), reading is all too often limitedto technical or school related tasks and not done outside of that context.
To be fair, in the last few years more teenagers and youngadolescents, and even tweeners, have been more akin to reading what with thepopularity of stories like the Twilight trilogy, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid andof course, the phenomenal Harry Potter series. It does help, too, that thesestories have a wide movie franchise behind it that does peak the interest ofmany readers. For younger readers, characters from popular television showssuch as Blues Clues and the like have also become quite abundant.
However, in the absence of such enticements, the question tobe asked is how do we get our kids to become interested in reading for fun andnot just because it is assigned by a teacher? Further, how can we encouragethem to read the types of stories we read as children ourselves? I do laudthose teachers who are able to make sure their students not only read butactually like the act of reading in itself, but as parents, we can also takepart in fostering a love for reading.
What I have come to recognize on a personal level that todevelop a skill or build up on something, there must be constant practice orexposure. This is definitely true for reading. Establishing a supportivereading environment is essential. With consistent and regular reading periodswith your child, such as during bedtime, can help them see that reading is apleasurable act. Over time, you can encourage your child to read along ratherthan just be read to.
Another way of cultivating a reading this readingenvironment is by taking trips to the local library. This is a wonderfulalternative to visits to the mall. Not only does it cost nothing, your child— and even you — have everything to gain!
It is also important to remember that building a love forreading should be a fine balance between challenge and comfort. What I meanwith this is that to encourage a child to read more, it should neither be toohard nor too easy. Making sure that the storybooks (or novels for older kids)are not just age-appropriate but also skill-appropriate is essential.
Lastly, tapping into your childs interests can make themwant to read further. For example, if your sons interest is on dinosaurs orairplanes, get him books on those topics or with those characters. Whether itis a fictional story or a facts and figures book, this will surely engage himin reading.
As an end note, I am a firm believe that teaching readingshould not be limited to the schools and as something to be delegated to theteachers. We, too, must take part in raising a reader. Oh…and let’s not forget:children do imitate what they see, so maybe we too should find more time toread! Happy reading!!!