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The Direct Connection Between Reading Outside of School and Understanding Textbooks

As schools reopen, reading outside of school takes a backseat. In the process all the benefits reaped from regular reading gradually disappear, leading children back to where they started.

A national reading survey by Scholastic reveals that the percentage of children reading in the age group 8-10 plummets. As per the survey the percentage decreased from 40% to 28%. The most common reason is multiple activities competing for their attention, ranging from sports classes, extra curriculars, social events and school homework.

How does this decline impact their performance in school?

For starters, reading comprehension abilities stagnate and children find it difficult to appreciate the information that their school textbooks are trying to impart. As they move to higher classes, textbooks become more textual making it even more important for children to be able to read and understand on their own. Exam patterns lead to intense preparation in terms of writing to memorise texts without exactly absorbing the meaning. While this meets the short term objective of obtaining marks in the exams, it has serious long term implications. To begin with it reenforces a negative association with reading itself. If your child does not read at all, this might be one of the reasons.

Reading to infer for instance is an incredibly important skill. All jobs irrespective of sector involve some amount of reading and making inferences quickly. Just as any other basic skill reading to infer is also one that requires years of practice. Inculcating the habit of reading early on, learning to obtain information by reading, making inferences and to analyse text becomes critical. Simply memorising text to write in exams and score marks may not hold children in good stead in their future.

Reading for pleasure is a simple fix to this problem. What's more, it can be a source of entertainment too.

Often, the common excuses for children not reading is, "There is no time. School has started and so have tuitions." The truth is that reading for even ten minutes every day can deliver on immense benefits than no reading at all. Reading for school is performance oriented and leaves little space for exploration and thought about aspects such as:

  • Writing style and the impact it has on the reader. Some books are engaging while others are not. What could be the reason?

  • The choice of characters and how the author chooses to portray them to tell an engaging story. Stories as a great form of conveying information or even as a means of self expression.

  • Kind of words chosen to describe the characters, scenes or an event in the story that makes it easy for a reader to visualize.

  • The clarity in expression that makes writing easy to read and understand. Being guided to observe the approach helps readers imbibe the same in their writing as well.

  • Non-fiction lovers can wind down by reading small snippets in children's newspapers and magazines. Every kind of reading outside of school counts. Children's newspapers available in print edition in India

Reading for even ten minutes every day can deliver on immense benefits than no reading at all. Every kind of reading outside of school counts.

How do children who don't see themselves as readers, lose out
  • Reading and understanding long texts is daunting and tiresome. This prompts them to escape any activity that involves reading comprehension, which of course involves studies too. The result is that they associate reading only with performance and not with something that they enjoy and can get good at.

  • In a class that is filled with children with different reading levels, these children feel diffident and tend not to pay attention. It is very easy for them to give up saying that they don't understand. Imagine this being repeated over and over again. It simply reenforces that they are not as good as the others and they simply accept it in the absence of help.

  • Their vocabulary continues to be poor which further impacts their reading skill making it a difficult activity that they tend to shy away from.

  • Learning new words is limited to the list of meanings that they memorize as a part of their school lessons. They do not learn to infer from context and learn to use the words learnt appropriately in the right contexts. The ability to appreciate the need to correctly choose the apt words in writing is something they don't get a chance to observe in their own time and space. This acts as a serious impediment in writing convey an intended message clearly and impactfully, especially in high school.

Reading for pleasure goes a long way in boosting confidence enabling children to actively participate in group discussions in class and write better. It is not an activity that must stop when school begins. Just as physical activity is the key to good physical health and simply cannot be missed, reading outside of school is a must if you want your child to comprehend school texts with ease.


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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-11 age group, the Young Executives' Club program offers spoken and written communication skills development course for the 12-14 age group.

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