Cultivating a love for reading is important for children, whether it is at home or in the classroom
Classrooms are big and the standardized tests only want one “right” answer from the students. How do teachers and parents cultivate a love for reading in children? How can we get them to engage with literature and find their own personal meaning in it?
Annie Thoms– Mom, English teacher, writer and self-confessed Bibliophile- has some answers:
Why reading is important
“When we expose children to literature, we ask them to engage with us in making sense of the world. Reading can be an invitation to recognize and begin to understand the complex web of people, history, and ideas that surround us,” writes Thoms.
Thoms has spent the last twenty years reading to children and writing about why reading to children is so important.
A pivotal moment in her life was when her father read her The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula k. LeGuin. The novel depicts a Utopian society where all the inhabitants’ happiness is based on the misery of one terrified child who is kept locked away. When they become young adults, the citizens learn about this and, in order to stay in the city, they must accept that the child cannot be released. The book describes the citizens who choose to walk away from that life.
Over a decade later, Thoms read this book with her students. It encouraged her students to apply the situation in the book to their own lives and in turn, confront their own deeply held beliefs.
Reading, according to Thoms, helps us to become conscious citizens. Situations and stereotypes we read in books can be applied to real-life news and violence.
Amidst all this violence, reading gives children the ability to escape into a sanctuary where the imagined transforms into real emotions. Books can make us cry, laugh and face our deepest fears in a private and safe space.
This is why Thoms fills her children’s’ bookshelves with books. She reads with them and encourages them to read alone. There is a book for every age group. While a 9 year old can peruse through the Harry Potter series, a three year old can turn the pages of a colourful children’s book.
From household to classroom- making reading matter everywhere
The New York City Writing Project encourages teachers to create the same individualized reading we see at home at school. This is a challenge given that schools are centred on a standardized answer. Tests force students to take a main point of any prose out of context and come to a single conclusion. This is not how the real world works. Changing this system will help to prepare children to think on their own.
Individual reading improves their interest in books and helps them create their own ideas. Group reading spurns multiple interpretations of the same story. By listening to other ideas and arguments, children learn how to create their own.
Through reading we can change how we and our children see the world. So instead of installing a new playstation, consider investing in a bookshelf.
Our team at Stimulus Maksima! offers tools and solutions that help our clients, from toddlers to adults, to improve their English and Afrikaans reading and numeracy skills. We address reading and mathematics preparation, the learn-to-read phase, as well as reading and mathematical improvement. All our products are supported by a comprehensive assessment and reporting system.
Find out more about how we do it by visiting our website at http://www.stimulusmaksima.co.za/