We are in the era of iPads and smartphones taking over! As a result, it can seem less likely for young children to grab a book instead of swiping on Instagram or playing games on their phones. It is of the utmost gravity that we begin to encourage our students to not only read, but, more importantly, enjoy reading.
Although this sounds like a simple enough task, encouraging students to read that already do not enjoy it, can be very hard. They struggle as they sift through shelves of books that seem uninteresting and time consuming. Many times, the reason behind their unwillingness to read is due to the difficulties they face when reading.
There are some ways we can encourage these students to pick up a book and put down the iPhone.
Allow them to not like certain books. They will not like every book that they pick up. Allow them to decide for themselves whether or not they like it- if they don’t, have them explain why! This can also encourage them to find a book that they do like, instead of assuming that they are supposed to like every book they pick up (they will feel discouraged when they don’t like the book).
Model the behaviour you want to see. Let the students, or your kids, see you reading. Discuss the books you’ve read, your love for reading and why you feel it’s so important. Saying it is one thing, but actually showing what you believe in will help children feel more inclined to wanting to read.
Invite the author. If there is an author living in your area, invite them to be a guest speaker in your classroom or your school. This can be an inspirational experience for some, and not only encourage children to read, but to write their own stories as well.
Create a book club with books of their choosing. Some students may not enjoy reading because they haven’t found a style of book they enjoy yet. Give them the choice to discover different types of books; picture books, novels, comics - whatever it may be. They can even connect with other students who like the same style and create a book club.
Teach them reading strategies. Students who are struggling with reading will not be inclined to read for that exact reason - they have a hard time reading. It is important to teach them reading strategies. Reading strategies can range from phonics and letter sounds, to comprehension of whole words. Find out where their difficulties are, and help them improve. Once they are improving, they will feel more comfortable taking on books!
It is also important to note that we make sure students are reading at a level that is comfortable for them, but not to make them feel as though they are way below the reading level as their other classmates. If their appropriate level is a picture book style, why not have a picture book day where all the students in your class read a picture book? Read alouds are also an excellent way to include all reading levels, and can be done from Kindergarten to Grade 6!
As J.K Rowling puts it, “books are a uniquely portable magic”. Spend time reading with your students or your children each day. This may seem like a lot, but all we need is 10-15 minutes of literacy to not only improve reading abilities and strategies, but to develop a love for reading as well.