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Testing for Reading Comprehension

Could that kill the joy of reading?

Reading comprehension sheets are part of our curriculum evaluation. From the teacher's point of view it is the sure shot way of gauging if the student has understood the lesson or the passage given. Arguably it is an important skill to be able to read large volumes of text, decipher important information, sometimes even make appropriate inferences depending on the context. But how effective are reading comprehension worksheets and book reviews in enabling the acquisition of this very important skill?

Natalie Wexler, in her article, How To Get Kids To Read For Fun? talks about how school curriculums often tend to overly analyse texts in the name of reading comprehension thus killing the joy of reading anything. Couple this with other distractions such as video games and T.V, the incentive to read outside of school for fun, only becomes even lesser.

How does 'not reading' for fun have an impact on your child?

There are incredible books being written for children today covering a variety of matters. Books can be a source of entertainment with plenty of benefits on the side. To name the obvious, the more your child reads, the better their vocabulary becomes, their critical thinking skills improve and they learn to show empathy. The less obvious side benefits are becoming more well informed about subjects of interest as well as subjects of prime importance such as knowing what to do in an emergency, what to do when a stranger asks questions etc. Childrens' literature today has plenty of authors who write very impactfully with contexts that children in this century can easily connect with. Enabling them to access a variety of books opens up room for questions and discussions with parents, thus creating a solid communication channel as they grow older.

Helping your child set a reading goal for themselves

A child about 8 years of age was asked by his teacher why he needs to read everyday. He said it is to improve his reading skills. When asked, how that would help him, he did not have an answer. He did not know why.

His teacher told him that knowing how to read fluently and understand many kinds of stories would give him a super power. He could know anything with that super power. "For example," she said, "You love driving your toy cars around. What if you could read and find out how a real car works? Wouldn't that be fascinating? But to do that, you need to be able to read long texts with a lot of information. To get there, you need to spend time reading any book of your choice everyday. It will take time but one day you will be able to read a big book on how cars work with ease!"

The teacher who shared this interaction with me described the child's eyes light up at knowing that there is a goal that he would like to reach and it is in his hands to make that happen.

Children need to read for themselves not because an adult tells them to

That would entail allowing them to choose books. There will be hits and misses. That's the reason why a library subscription goes a long way.

Making reading a social activity

As a facilitator of a children's book club, I have made several book recommendations. Interestingly, the books that eventually get read aren't my book recommendations but the ones that are recommended by peers. If a peer recommends a book in a genre that they enjoy, they willingly try.

Here is a list of book recommendations from the children at the Young Readers' Club from across genres:


a) Good Night Mister Tom by Michelle Morgorian

b) Horribly Famous- Winston Churchill by Alan MacDonald

c) Horribly Famous- Horatio Nelson and His Valiant Victory by Phillip Reeve

d) Chowpatty Cooking Club by Ludhiana Bandukwala

e) Chatur Chanakya by Radhakrishnan Pillai

f) Maus by Art Spieglman


a) The Cogheart Adventure series by Peter Bunzl.

b) Lord of Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

c) Rise of the guardians by Farrah McDoogle and Larry Navarro

d) Phoebe and the Unicorn Series by Dana Simpson.

Inspirational stories:

a) Tata Stories by Harish Bhat

b) Ramanujam- From Zero to Infinity by Arundhati Venkatesh

Daily Life/School

a) Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

b) Grandma's Bag of Stories by Sudha Murthy

c) How the sea became salty by Sudha Murthy


a) Wrinkle In Time by Madeline D'Engle. (The reader who recommended this book also informed us how the author was inspired by Einstein's theory of relativity.

b) George and the cosmic universe series by Stephen Hawking and Lucy Hawking

Note: The readers weren't quizzed to test if they had really read these books. They were asked to make convincing book recommendations. That meant presenting aspects that made each of these books compelling enough to read.


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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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