A classroom or a home full of avid readers is The Dream of any teacher / parent. The Gen Alpha, born entirely in the 21st century have all kinds of technology at their disposal which almost always takes them away from reading. It’s a challenge as teachers and parents to encourage this generation to become avid readers.
Back in the days all we had were books to take us away from our little rooms and minds to a world of fantasy where anything and everything was possible. Now the youth has numerous amounts of gadgets that tailors their imagination. It has them hooked on so much so that we adults have to struggle to control their screen time.
So, in such a scenario, how could we encourage them to read? And, should we really get them away from their techno world?
The latter is pretty simple to answer. Here are a few reasons why you should encourage the habit of reading.
- A study published in 2019 shows that even when children as small are 5 and younger are read to, their MRI scans showed increased organised white matter in their brain as compared to screen time. This organised white matter is what’s involved in developing language and the ability to learn.
- Preschool children who are exposed to listening to words or conversations that are read to them tend to do better in school. So this means, its always better to start early.
- Children who read have longer attention spans which is definitely an important skill if we want them to learn to concentrate well.
- Reading builds listening skills and imagination. It most definitely broadens their knowledge base and they begin to dream and imagine a world that’s theirs to keep and expand.
- Reading always improves a child’s vocabulary and language skills. This helps them eventually speak and write better.
When reading does have all the above and more benefits, here are ways to build this wonderful habit in our children and students.
- Read: This is a very simple and practical first step. As they say you need to practice what you preach. Show the young ones that you read. The tad bit of love that my students / children have for reading is because I have showed them this love. There are times when I simply like carrying a book to school. This helps grab their attention and interest. At home, I still try to build my mini library. When they see you is when they will repeat you. Make it look cool and they’ll be all in.
- Share: I reiterate, talk to them. Talk to them about the books you’re reading or have read and share you experiences. Tell them the weirdest places that you have read books and make them laugh. Share one of your favorite stories, get a book and read out your favorite passage and encourage them to do the same. This can be done with any age group and is a lot of fun.
- Environment: Build a comfy reading environment in your class or home. Have a book shelf with inviting titles. Basically, a place where children can read and feel good about it. You could use this designated area also as a means of reward. I’ve had a special carpet in my class that gets laid out at the reading corner only for those students who have performed well that day. Use this as a reward system at home too.
- Reading Day: Organize a special reading event at school where the children can either come in their PJs and bring their favorite book and snacks, or come dressed as their favorite character. This definitely works in building the excitement and love towards reading. This can easily be done at home as well.
- Visitor reading: Have a day set out for reading where parents, other school staff or siblings at senior school are invited to read. Children enjoy being read to by people they know. This will encourage them to read to others or even their younger siblings at home.
- Field Trip: Take kids on a field trip to the local library or a bookstore where they are surrounded by books and get to see fellow readers enjoying reading. These are experiences they will never forget.
- Technology: Since we are dealing with a generation that thrives on technology, use it. There are tons of apps out there that teach kids to read and e-readers that kids can easily use. If possible have an e-reader in class that the students can use as a reward.
- Video Games: A very unconventional way of developing reading skills are video games. I’ve found that both my students and children have got better at reading and spellings while they play games on the PS4, XBOX etc. This is simply because they are hungry to pass on to the next level. It’s a self initiated effort to read the instructions and succeed at the game.
Most of the above have been tried and tested. At times I’ve succeeded easily but at other times I’ve had to be very persistent. Currently I’m still struggling with my youngest at home. Nevertheless don’t let go because…
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
Last but not least I’d like to thank my fellow Muslimah Bloggers Nazzish and Princess Peace for inspiring me to write on this topic.
They’re sharing their bit on this topic so go ahead and read their thoughts.
Go on to their Instagram handles @nazzish.ehsan and @princessnothman