Children who read for fun generally tend to write better. Here is why...
Reading for some children clearly is a chore, not something that they do for fun. It is sad as they don't know what they are missing out. Unlike before where we had only a few well known authors writing entertaining books such as Enid Blyton and perhaps Roald Dahl later, today there is a book for every kind of reader. Allowing children to pick what they want to read and NOT having a test later based on the book, makes a world of difference. When they are either not allowed to pick books on their own or worse their choice of books is judged, they never read for entertainment. The result is that they associate reading for school studies alone. It is associated with performance. Years of negative association with reading tends to interfere with their writing abilities, the pressure of which is increasingly felt as they move on higher grades.
Seeing one's own writing from a reader's perspective
While story writing or as it is popularly known as creative writing is the first step to get children interested in writing, writing as a skill in the real world is no way restricted to writing stories alone. In your own regular routines, you will be writing something. Maybe your routine writing tasks would include making grocery lists or writing emails or reports or writing for presentations or creating effective ads or campaigns etc. Every one of these applications require writing as a skill to clearly communicate something to reader to read at a later point in time. Which means that the writer must write coherently. But how will the writer know if what they are writing is easy to understand unless they assume the role of reader themselves?
Extending the same logic to children, if they hardly read outside of school, they are not going to write coherently as well as they simply don't understand what makes writing easy to understand and relate to. Textbook lessons are linked with testing and hence there is no room to observe a writer's approach. Where as material that is written to deliver a particular joy in reading is no way connected to testing and hence serves as the perfect platform to ponder over the approach- what works and what doesn't. (More on how this helps with reading comprehension)
Material that is written to deliver a particular joy in reading is no way connected to testing and hence serves as the perfect platform to ponder over the approach- what works and what doesn't.
Editing one's own work, punctuations and the fear of writing.
Reading for fun enables children to understand the importance of syntax and punctuations for ease of understanding. Avid readers tend to respect punctuations more comfortably when they write. They understand that punctuations help in enhancing the reading experience. They avoid long winded sentences as reading a variety of literature gives them an idea of the approach that helps in enhancing the reading experience. Children who despise reading often don't appreciate the use of punctuations and in fact despise it. When they are told to correct or edit their writing, they develop an aversion towards writing as an activity itself. Just as reading for school is associated with testing and performance, writing for school also gets the same association. The same when repeated over and over again instils a sense of fear when asked to write anything.
The inability to express coherently spills over to academics as children are unable to express clearly what they might have understood. Details go missing as they are unable to understand why they matter from a reader's perspective. Tuitions come in handy to give the child additional support that the school is unable to give in terms of individual attention. However, when it comes to writing answers, it is often becomes more rote learning. Ultimate goal being - score good marks for college. True, good marks are important in the short term but they maybe barely sufficient for a prosperous career in the future, if one cannot communicate effectively. No matter how capable one is, the inability to communicate effectively can be a huge stumbling block irrespective of profession.
Five ways to make your child fall in love with reading
START EARLY- reading for pleasure like any other good habit takes time to form. It can't happen magically overnight when your child becomes a teenager. If you hit this realisation a little late, not to fret. Comics and graphic novels still fit the reading bill. Here is why.
Enrol in a good library. This will enable you and your child to discover authors whose writing is appealing. Then would be a good time to buy and treasure those books written by a child's favourite authors.
Allow your child to choose irrespective of age: If your child is too small to read on their own, make it a fun activity in which the two of you spend time looking at books and pick the ones that you child points out to. Enjoy reading aloud with them even it means reading the same book multiple times. That's a great sign. If your child can read independently, even then, allow them to choose. Even if they choose something like Captain Underpants that probably makes your eyes roll, it counts as reading as they are enjoying it. If something about a book puts you off, talk about it instead of simply putting it away saying it is a 'bad' book. You will be surprised to hear what your child has to say about your concern. It paves the way for better communication and understanding.
Reading together: Books such as Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie Series are excellent for beginner readers. You can take turns with your child playing the role of either the elephant or the piggie thus making reading a joint activity.
Read aloud for bedtime: There is something nice about bed time. Its the end of the day and generally the two of you are far likely to be relaxed. Reading a nice book together helps build a positive association with reading and what's more makes time for bonding. This is especially handy with teenagers if they like the idea. This might open up different matters for free discussion.
If you are wondering where to find information about the plethora of children's books, do write to us. We have a long list of book recommendations given by young readers in the age group 8-11 as a part of our activity of the month, conducted every month! Another great source is Reading Racoons on Facebook.
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