Nowadays, it’s a commonly accepted belief that reading is highly beneficial for children. Like anything, the more they practice, the better they get at it, and the better they get at it, the more stress-free their time at school becomes. All very well, but the reality is that many children aren’t reading.
Like me, you may wish to see more of our kids becoming enthused about books. Before we can take steps to achieve this, however, it is important to understand why they’re choosing not to get lost in the wonderful world of the written word. The following are some of the main reasons that children who don’t read don’t.
Why children don’t read:
It’s too difficult
Children who struggle to read often don’t want to. Unfortunately, the very way to improve reading skills is through practice, but, for many, this is an initially tiresome process, for which persistence is the key. Finding ways to make reading engaging are important.
The ability to lose oneself in the wordsmanship of an author is something that can take time to develop. Especially when television takes us to the same place without even having to trigger the imagination. For children who find reading boring, the trick is to find books, fiction or non-fiction, that relate to the topics that interest them.
I’m too busy
Children these days are far busier than when I was at school. There’s school, then a finely-tuned schedule of extra-curricular activities, the never-ending homework list, and their pocket-money earning household chores. How are they supposed to fit in half an hour of cartoons, let alone read a book. Whether it’s a half hour before going to sleep, or while waiting in the car before swimming, work out – with your child – a regular time that reading can be slotted into their day.
I’m too tired
Because children are so busy, they’re often tired, and the last thing they are likely to want to do (unless they’re already hooked on books) is read. Like the previous point, it can help to fit reading into your child’s routine, somewhere that will allow it to become part of his or her day. And if they are particularly tired, be gentle – a little can go along way, and the goal is for reading to be fun, not another chore.
Nobody else reads, so why should I?
Kids learn from example. It’s a lot harder to establish good reading habits in children when the adults and peers around them don’t read. Seeing others reading, particularly people the child looks up to, validates its importance. Why not take that a step further and read together. The roll-on effects of this are far-reaching.
Most importantly, keep in mind that the goal is to make reading fun. Nagging kids to read, therefore, is not going to aid your endeavour. Neither will lecturing, criticizing, pressuring, or judging your child’s performance. Work together to set realistic goals, offer praise for their efforts, and allow your children the freedom to explore the exciting world of literature.
You may also find the following NZ Booklovers articles helpful: Read it, Write it, Play it, Build it: Ten Fun Creative Reading-Related Activities, Enjoying Books: Ten Ways You Can Encourage Your Child to Read, It’s a Readers World: Ten Reading-Related Activities for You and Your Child.