The mission to make your child a life long reader is a worthy one. But the only way to create ravenous readers is by cultivating in them a deep love of reading. And that doesn’t happen overnight. Research points out that the motivation to read falls rapidly with age, more so drastically after age eight. Kids who do not enjoy reading at a younger age are quite unlikely to do so as they grow into adults.
Here, schools play a major role – in instilling not just a culture of reading among students, but to also make it enjoyable for them. In this age of video games, apps and smart phones, the question remains how?
As the world celebrates international literacy day on 8th September, let’s take a look at some of things schools can do to make reading a daily habit;
Promote independent reading
Creating an environment where children read on their own with zero supervision, creates a setting for increased reading achievement. Schools should make it a priority to set aside time for independent reading as part of their schedule. This habit goes a long way in developing bright minds, improving vocabulary, general knowledge, and even spelling.
However majority of schools give dedicated time for independent reading a miss. Research suggests that even though 33% of children aged between 6 and 17 had designated time for independent reading in their schools, only 17% of them actively followed it every day.
Encourage Reading for pleasure
Independent reading should be a fun activity rather than a chore. In 2016, it was found that only 51% of children said they read books for fun, a 9% decline from 2010.
When books are read for pleasure, it improves a kid’s literacy and learning outcomes. A report by the National centre for educational statistics revealed that students who read for pleasure scored nearly 10% more in academic tests than students who read out of compulsion.
Specifically, kids who explore a variety of styles and genres enjoy reading more and become life long readers.
Host a book fair or participate in one
Hosting a book fair is a popular and proven method to make kids read. The Al Ain Book Fair, a major literary event in the UAE, has been at the fore front of spreading good reading habits in the region. Now in its ninth edition, Al Ain Book Fair appeals to all ages and interests and brings together school groups, families and young people to create a generation of book lovers.
Competition increases reading among students by giving reluctant readers a little motivation. It not only creates a sense of pride and purpose, but when kids compete with each other, reading also becomes more fun and challenging. Don’t be surprised at the number of new reading stars you’ll begin to find once you incorporate competitions into the classroom.
Promote teachers as readers
Teachers can be contagious reading role models for their students. When students see their teachers read, they are inspired to become enthusiastic readers too. A fun and cost effective way to show students that teachers read as well, is by sticking posters of teachers reading their favourite books at the class room door or hallway. If you want your students to be good readers, it is always a good idea to be one yourself.
Create a high quality Library
School libraries can be at the heart of promoting student reading by setting a pleasant atmosphere for reading. A well designed library with a range of different genres and themes, gives students choice and incentive to spend more time on reading which in turn boosts reading achievement.
Let students make their own choices
Allowing students to choose their books is important in making them read more. Students are less than thrilled when they are assigned books to read by others. In fact research has proven that kids who choose their own reading material performed better at reading tests than those who were not given a choice.
Set up a book club
A vibrant book club is one of the best ways to create a love for books. Book clubs makes reading a social practice, where students get together to read, chill out and share their thoughts. This informal setting makes reading a fun activity and creates a community of readers. Schools can also set up book clubs that involve parents.
Creating a reading wall
Having a print rich environment in a school is a simple and effective way to boost student readership. Schools can turn a dull school wall into an inspirational reading wall full of quotes, book covers and characters. It is meaningful way to remind students about the joys of reading besides providing reading opportunities.
Invite a guest reader to class
A guest reader program is a wonderful way to promote reading in schools through community involvement. Each week, schools can invite parents, local authors or anyone from the community to read their favourite books aloud to students. This not only gets the kids excited but also gives a new perspective on reading.
Becoming a good reader takes time and persistence. The way students are encouraged to read will basically influence their understanding of what reading brings for them. Children should be taught that books are their best friends and the reward is in the reading.