Reading is a broad subject; one that fits into the umbrella of learning, which in turn is broad in itself.
At some point or other, I am sure we can all remember a time where we’ve come home wanting to know more about a topic, or wanting to find out about what’s happening in a particular event across the world, and in our excitement have turned to question anyone who will listen in the vicinity, hoping that they’ll provide us with the answer. I am also sure that we can all remember that time where our question has been answered with yet another question: “Why don’t you go and read about it?” I remember this dashing comeback frequently as a child. At the time, I thought it was annoying and frustrating. I didn’t have time to read. It was so much effort. I just wanted to go back to playing with my friends. Now though, I understand what my mum was steering me towards; a thirst to learn, the determination to find something out, the appreciation of all that a book can offer which in time, she hoped, would lead to a love for reading. It worked!
Developing a love of reading is not easy, and I sympathise with all those parents of reluctant readers, willing the moment where it all just ‘clicks’ into place. Well, importantly, I urge you to persevere; take heart and do as you want done. By developing an ethos and an environment that excites, enthuses and values reading goes a long way in terms of modelling what you want your child to grasp. It could be that you create a library, a nook or a corner in your house which is cosy and inviting, and where children have access to a range of books. It could be that whenever your child asks a probing question, you sit down and resort to books to find answers together. Whatever you do, if books are accessible, encouraged and valued, children will begin to nurture that same ethos.
As I said earlier, reading is a broad subject. The National Curriculum splits reading into two areas: word reading and comprehension. Whilst this is well-known, both provide huge blockers for children falling in love with reading. Therefore, it is vital that your child has a space where reading aloud and talking about stories, pictures and poems is encouraged and facilitated. It takes time to read accurately and it takes time to read fluently. Read aloud with your children; read to them channelling your inner ‘CBBC presenter’, putting on accents, intonation and different voices. Have fun with reading and allow time to talk. Allow time for them to ask you questions, to clarify what they think is happening, or to give their thoughts on what is going to happen next. Talking about what your children hear and what they can see is the best way to start, or continue to develop their comprehension skills; the level of how much they understand from reading. If you’re feeling brave, you can go one-step further and role-play, or act out parts of a story. It all creates discussion and helps children to infer and understand what is going on, how someone feels, and then they can link that to their own experiences and knowledge of the world.
Finally, children need to see literature beyond ‘reading.’ As previous mentioned, learning is also a broad topic, and so to develop a love and an understanding of how important reading is, reading needs to have a high profile in all areas of life. Your child may be sporty and want to improve their technique, or they may be artistic and want to paint in a certain style; encourage them to find a book that can help them. Show them that books, and therefore reading has as role in all parts of learning. In today’s world it is easy to ‘google’ anything that comes to mind and we have become used to have answers to everything we desire at our fingertips. But before Google, what did we have? In fact, how is Google (and websites) so informatively populated? Long ago the form of communication was much simpler, but truth be told, all, of at least a lot of what we know now has come from books; the effort from someone to record, and the effort from someone to read. I argue that the Power of Reading (suitably the name of our English Curriculum Scheme at Hatherop) will never diminish, and therefore taking steps now to encourage our children to engage with books, to look at books, and to think of books will eventually develop a love for reading that once established, will last a life-time.
If you would like to discuss ‘how to develop a love for reading’ more, please do come and find me. I’d love to chat more.
Mr Jon Bowen – Head of English