The lessons that my young reading companions taught me.
I once recommended Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger to a few young readers. To their credit they tried but they eventually dismissed it as silly! Several young readers recommended that I read Captain Underpants instead. I was definitely tempted as I had seen them laugh out loud and enjoy every bit of it. I gave it a try and eventually realised that I am not a big fan of Captain Underpants series. I had a similar experience with the Geronimo Stilton series. This time around however there were many more who recommended books in these series. I enjoyed a few but did not read a substantial number to call myself a fan. Many of these young readers who simply adore these kind of series eventually grew into avid readers. It was evident that they had discovered the joy of reading, their minds had opened up enabling them to move on and discover new kinds of books. What I thought didn't matter. What they thought of the experience is what mattered.
What I thought didn't matter. What they thought of the experience is what mattered.
As adults there is always a tendency to let our prejudices and preferences determine our own point of view of books. We tend to appreciate certain kind of book and down right reject others as we cannot connect. Interacting with multiple young readers, the most important takeaway for me has been to accept the fact that I as a reader cannot possibly enjoy every kind of book in every kind of genre in exactly the same way.
I as a reader cannot possibly enjoy every kind of book in every kind of genre in exactly the same way.
Every day is a new day
Any experience that gives joy becomes a habit no? The same is true of young readers too. They need to discover what is it in for them. There maybe days when they simply sit with a book and not read at all. There maybe days when they announce that they don't want to read as there is no book to read. This may sound odd as your house may be filled with books. It is so easy to get exasperated and say something in the lines of, "There are so many books at home and you say you don't want to read."
But is it really about books being available to read or is it more about what kind of books help deliver on some unique experiences that are worth treasuring?
A reader who is at the beginning of their reading journey has no clue where to go. Several books are simply different routes to a place or goal that they don't know about. Pick any book/route you would say. But hey they haven't set a goal that they can understand in their minds. Goals such as good vocabulary, do better in school etc may make sense to a few children perhaps. But reading is much more than simply knowing a lot of words or understand school textbooks better. While these are extremely important, to raise life long readers you need to enable them to experience a magical feeling that they can easily relate to. This takes time and immense patience. Accepting that there would be hits and misses in books bought or borrowed is crucial. Being available to discuss books is vital. Making it a collaborative activity or a bonding time activity even can help them build some sort of a positive association with reading and eventually develop their own reading goals. Self motivation goes a long way in sustaining a reading habit.
Do you have experiences of your own where young readers showed the way to think differently about children reading? Your experience may help a parent or a teacher. Do write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to share your word.
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