Building the Next Generation of Readers
Encouraging Children to Read
With children going back to school, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss reading and children.
Most of us have children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. We want them to be successful in adulthood, and one of the best correlations with success is early reading. Reading is required to learn in every area of knowledge.
As writers, we want more people to read and more people to buy our books, so we want everyone’s children to become readers.
But, like construction, the process of creating an interest for reading in children takes repetition and multiple steps. It takes time, and it takes someone (parent, relative, teacher, friend) dedicated to helping the child learn and grow.
So, how do we build passion for reading in children? What do children want to read? And what do the “experts” suggest as the best processes to achieve that goal?
In this age of TV, computers, and cell phones, all competing for children’s attention, how do we interest them in reading? And what are children today interested in reading?
A quick look for current trends of what children are reading revealed this list:
- Empowered females
- Pugs (Yes, apparently children like that breed of dogs)
- Wild creatures
- Ghosts, monsters, and scary things
- Gross and goofy
- Nonfiction titles
And a quick look for an “expert’s” tips on developing good reading habits, revealed this list:
- Make reading a daily habit – read to your children at a young age
- Read in front of your child
- Create a reading space
- Take trips to the library
- Let your child pick what to read
- Find reading moments in everyday life
- Reread favorite books
- Learn more about how children read
I’ll add my thoughts:
- Read to children at an early age
- Allow them to explore picture books
- Help them learn to read at an early age
- Give them access to age-appropriate books
- Provide/protect a time to read (with TV, computer, and phone turned off)
- Give books as gifts
- Show an interest in what they write. Encourage them to write stories.
Okay, now it is your turn:
1. What factors encouraged you or made you a reader?
I don’t remember being read to at an early age, but I’m certain I was. I do remember going to kindergarten for two years before first grade, and reading second grade material by the end of those two years. During my third-grade year, our county library started a book mobile that included a stop at our elementary school. I remember the excitement of being allowed to explore those books. I also remember a large collection of “Bible fiction” given to my father and placed in the family book shelves. I became especially interested when I discovered that many of those books contained adult material. I spent too much time exploring those books, and my parents soon discovered why. The books disappeared. One of my best influencers was the elderly librarian in our little town, who wrapped her arm around my shoulders and directed me toward “the classics” that I “needed” to read.
2. What has worked with your children or relatives to create an interest in reading?
After my wife and I spent every Wednesday, this past summer, watching two of our grandchildren, reading to them, having them read to us, taking them to the library, and working through a workbook on language skills, I asked each of them, “Has anything made you interested in reading?” The first answered, “Nothing.” The second said, “No, not really.”
On the other hand, I have a granddaughter who lives two hours away whom we visit every several months. She likes to read and write. We trade stories when we see each other, and she loves to read her stories out loud to me.
3. What suggestions do you have to build the next generation of readers?
I hope you have better ideas than I did., and I hope you will share them.