Live and Learn:
How to Make Kids Hate (or Love) Reading!
By Michel Thibeault, Panyaden Head Teacher
Imagine your best friend just bought you a book he knows you will truly enjoy. You go home after work thinking about the relaxing evening ahead: soft music playing over dinner followed by some quiet time reading the book you’ve been thinking about all day. You open the book with a smile on your face and there it is, the list of questions you must answer: identify the main character; find 5 words that describe the setting; find the name of the dog in the story; copy 2 complex sentences and label the independent and the dependent clauses…and so on. Enough said. None of us would like that. The barrage of questions just killed the desire we had to read the book. But how do we kindle a love of reading?
We read to get information or to delve into a fantastic world where, as voyeurs, we spy on the heroes and villains, witnessing and often sharing their emotions. When we’re done, we enjoy talking about it with friends or colleagues and might wonder what this character really meant or whether we would have done the same thing in a similar situation…..but no one is interrogating us to check our understanding!
How can I support my child?
But my child needs to learn how to fully understand what he reads. How will I know he does if I don’t question him? Indeed, children do need to learn and we need to know if they actually do or not. However, interrogation sessions tend to lead to static answers and turn reading into a chore. The most effective way to help our children learn how to read and develop a love of reading is to read to them, to discuss the story together, to laugh together when the story is funny and to cry together when tragedy strikes the main character.
My child has reading homework, how can I help?
Early readers may take a long time to decode a book, syllable by syllable. Make sure you come armed with patience. If your child is too self-conscious to read to you, allow him or her to read by herself of find someone else to listen to him practise.
Older children will be able to read the assigned text independently, however, both early and experienced readers should be offered a chance to do what we all do with what we read: talk about it. We know that the brain learns and retains information more easily when we are relaxed and alert. So let’s make sure we don’t stress our young readers and focus the conversation around meaningful questions. “I don’t know if I could have been as brave as John in the story. How about you?” is a question that leads to a true conversation. “What’s the name of the main character?” is an interrogation!
My child has reading homework so I don’t need to read to him anymore!
One should not replace the other! We don’t stop talking to our kids when they can form full sentences on their own and we certainly don’t stop holding their hand when they can walk by themselves. I know many Year 7 kids who still enjoy listening to an adult reading to them. When they can read, we can enjoy them reciprocating and reading stories to us, either at night or in the car on a long journey!
Electronic or paper books?
Whether it’s about teaching reading, kindness, patience, etc., we know that modelling is our most powerful teaching tool. We know that children growing in houses with books and parents who love to read are more likely to become good readers and discover the joy of reading. A less known phenomenon however, is that research shows that students aged 8 to 16 who read print are nearly twice as likely to be above average readers as children who read electronically. In addition, those who only read on screen are four times less likely to say they enjoy reading. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/children-turn-away-from-books-in-favour-of-reading-electronically-8617899.html#)
Reading on a tablet is convenient. Listening to books being read to you when you begin reading can be very helpful. However, we encourage parents to provide paper books for their children and limit the time when they read from a screen. Here are a few ways you can get paper books:
• We have regular Book Fairs at school with Thai and English language books. The next one is on 12-14 March 2018.
• Thai and English language bookshops in town
• English language used book stores in town
• Ordering English language books from Baker Books 3 times a year.
Please take advantage of those opportunities.
Inspired by “Guided-Reading: How to Make Kids Hate (Love) to Read
By Justin Minkel