I don’t want to alarm you, but I have some disturbing news for you. So hold on to your bookmarks, everybody. According to some people, kids don’t read anymore. Just the thought of it, makes me shudder.
Kids don’t read, eh? Is that so? I can’t believe it. I’m not a scientist, but I do own a white coat and some beakers. I believe they are reading, but not what “people” want them to read. At school, we are forced to read hundreds of books that we don’t like. We find them boring or uninteresting. I think the key is reading for pleasure.
According to Jessica E Moyer, "Today’s teens may be reading just as much as teens in the past, but their methods and formats of reading are so different from the older generations."
Everything must have a beginning. If the first encounter with a book is positive, you are more likely to become a bookworm. But what happens if that encounter is not good? Well, Houston, we have a problem. Maybe these kids don’t have the right motivation. You have to be encouraged to do something with passion. Most probably these kids are not motivated by their families. So, the role of the school is very important here.
Teachers can make a difference. First of all, you can ask your students what kind of stories they would like to read. Based on that, you can present some fairy tales or short stories. If they enjoy reading, you are doing alright. The first time I read Alice, I read a shorter version of the book. Then, when I was older, I read the complete version. The reading level is important.
Dorothy Dyer says, "At school, teachers are too busy teaching what the letters are and how to put them together, and so little attention is paid to developing children’s enjoyment of reading. So, children who come from homes where reading is not encouraged do not learn to love reading. Instead, they see reading as a difficult chore that you have to do for tests and exams." She also says, "How can we get learners reading, particularly those who have not enjoyed reading at home? A powerful way is to provide material that will both appeal to learners by being accessible language-wise, and reflect young people’s own lives and realities. More and more people are realising how important it is for readers to see their own worlds reflected in the books they read. If you grow up never recognising yourself or your world in a book, then you learn the lesson that your life and environment is not valuable or powerful."
Another thing is to allow students to dislike a book. They don’t have to like every story. They have to find the right one for them. I’m honest with them. If there’s a book that I start reading, and I don’t find interesting, I change it.
But ok, we talked about the students. Now, we need to talk about the teachers. If you don’t like reading, your students are going to notice it. When you teach something with passion, your students also notice it. Passion is contagious. If you teach in this way, you can transmit this feeling to another generation of children. I work mostly in primary schools. I love using different strategies to invite students to read. I bring books, comics, magazines, and sometimes I use music, too. Every time I read, I try to make different voices for each character. After that, I bring my puppet theatre, and we have so much fun recreating the stories.
With teenagers, this is even better. They read with passion. They also can analyse things in another level. They are passionate people. Furthermore, You can debate about the story you are reading. But again, you have to let them choose. When I was a teenager, I remember crying over the death of a character. I remember getting emotional with the end of a story. I remember getting angry with an unfair end. Teenagers love reading.
The other day I watched a video of a girl, who said that his best friend read Percy Jackson. Because of that, he read "The Iliad and the Odyssey.” Classic literature is important, but I don’t think we must force our students to read it. We can guide them with other stories to it.
I want to quote what Lisa Bu says, "Books have given me a magical portal to connect with people of the past, and the present. I know, I shall never feel lonely or powerless again. Having a dream shattered really is nothing, compared to what many others have suffered. I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. It's most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from. Where passion comes from, where happiness comes from."
When I was young, I met a little wizard who chose to do what is right. I met a girl who lived with her grandfather in the Alps. I met a theme park full of cloned dinosaurs. I met a girl named Carrie, who was tired of bullies. I met a doctor who created a monster. Years later, I went back to the prehistoric park theme for the second time. I went to Maine to meet a killer clown, a Saint Bernard dog from hell, a car that was possessed by an evil spirit, and a pet cemetery. I also went to Rumania, without even leaving my house, to meet Count Dracula. All these stories and much more, live with me because I love books. It's like Abbas Al-Akkad says, "I do not read for I have a renounced life, I read because one life is just not enough for me."
When in doubt, remember what mama Rowling says.
Have a good one, people.