Raising life long readers...
First step is to enable children to identify themselves as readers.
Learning to read means decoding skills and acquisition of a whole variety of skills
Developing a positive association with reading early on is important. It helps children associate themselves as a reader and it goes a long way in boosting their confidence when they interact with others. Reading needs to become a means to find interesting information which they can use in their conversations.
Develop preferences and constantly expand them:
Ajay (name changed) a 10 year old at the Young Readers' Club likes to go deep into a given genre for a period of time. He spent few months relishing fantasy. After finishing the Harry Potter series, he went on to explore Percy Jacksons and Artemis Fowl. When car racing caught his fancy, he spent time reading about his favourite racing champion Michael Schumacher and never missed a chance to share it with rest of the group.
Share book recommendations and interesting information that one has read with anyone who would listen:
Recently, Ajay spoke to us a length about nuclear bombs, the power of destruction and how India became a nuclear power. He attended the session as Dr.Homibaba. His inputs led to a fascinating discussion about the futility of war, how the big countries of the world are aware of this futility and yet have nuclear power in their arsenal just in case.
Ajay is a fine example of a life time reader as he associates reading with a means of finding information, using the same to strike conversations with other peers at the reading group, recommend books such as Param Vir Chakra which make us ponder about the courage of the soldiers in defending our motherland. Once again raising the matter of futility of war.
Think critically about what they read:
The book Homer On The Case by Henry Cole was read across batches at the Young Readers' Club. There were significant differences in reactions to the same book from different readers. Only one batch finished reading the entire book cover to cover. This batch observed the author's decision to include a bird who is a self taught reader. They had extended discussions about this possibility in a plot that is otherwise set in the real world and not in a fantasy world. They settled with the agreed notion that sometimes creative freedom needs to be allowed for the sake of a story that could be potentially entertaining. When the readers in this batch found the protagonist in the book, Homer, the homing pigeon struggling to convey something to his owner, they asked, if this bird can learn to read, he can learn to write as well and then convey the message. Further in the book, when the bird strives to get down to the bottom of the mystery, the group came up with ideas inspired by technology. Everyone of those ideas they argued could be made possible given that this bird has already done something that birds can't do, which is learning to read the human language. So why not make the story even more adventurous and fun?
When the readers in this batch found the protagonist in the book, Homer, the homing pigeon struggling to convey something to his owner, they asked, if this bird can learn to read, he can learn to write as well and then convey the message.
While this batch enjoyed letting their imagination run wild with a variety of theories, the other batches chose to abandon the book. Reasons were well thought out and expressed with such alacrity that the decision to drop the book seemed like the right thing to do. For starters, they said that the author had listed several incidents of robbery one after another, with little indication of how the protagonist had the capacity to even solve the mystery. As a matter of fact it felt like his pitfalls are highlighted significantly making it appear that this is a lost case, they said. They found it too slow paced for their liking and could not connect with the bird's inspiration- Dick Tracy Comic.
Reflect on their reading
Shalini (name changed) shared her book recommendation Dork Diaries, T.V Star eagerly. She also chose to add a note of caution that there is a lull in between the story that has made her pause. She explained the need for a break and how she definitely wants to go back and finish reading the book. When asked why the mentioned portion in the book caused a lull, she explained how the character's actions felt a little lame and that she was put off by the character's inability to do the right thing. Having said that, she liked the plot in general and hence wanted to get back to it. To her surprise, another reader on the group shared a similar experience while reading the book. Their interaction spoke volumes about them as readers.
Reading and writing is an activity that needs to be part of the daily routine to bear results. Even a short duration 10-15 minutes can make a world of difference. Reading a book at bedtime or simply writing a diary or something as ordinary as listing "to dos" for the day still counts as writing. These two are such critical skills and yet somehow they take backseat especially as children grow older and move to high school. Ironically, that's when they need these skills even more.
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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-12 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 13-15 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.
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