10 ways to encourage the love of reading at school and at home
One of the greatest gifts you can give your children as a parent or teacher, is to instill a love of reading in them. Apart from the fact that reading helps develop a child’s language skills, it promotes literacy, which in turn helps kids succeed. Reading changes the brain for the better.
Some of our reading statistics in South Africa recently have painted a very dismal picture. Many state we are in a reading crisis. The Mail and Guardian reported in May this year that South Africa ranked last out of 50 countries in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study which tested the reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. The study found that 78% of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning.
In this article we give 10 tips on how you can promote a culture of reading at home and at school.
Make use of e-classroom’s resources
Make use of E-classroom’s large selection of Language online worksheets. They are based on the CAPS curriculum and they contain a great deal of reading material with comprehensions and questions to encourage a deeper understanding of text.
Create library awareness
Libraries are a great place to take children, whether it be the community library, the school library or even a library corner in your classroom or home. Try and give the children in your care, access to a collection of age-appropriate books on topics of interest. It pays to get children to develop a mindset of choosing to read in their free time. Contact your local library to arrange for a guided tour and an explanation of how students can make use of the local library.
Read to your children every day
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, make time to read to your children every day. Make time for storytelling. Paediatricians suggest reading to your children from birth. By the time a child starts Grade R, they should have received a minimum of 1000 hours of reading time by caregivers. This will give them a healthy head start at school. Often when you are reading to children, they will ask you to ‘read it again’. It is important to do this. Repeated read ‘alouds’ support vocabulary growth and enables deeper understanding. Model good reading by letting your children catch you reading quietly!
Set reading goals for those in your care
Let your children set targets for themselves. You can also set targets for them and have a system whereby they give you an oral report back on each book they read. Make this a fun, positive time. Refer to your children constantly as readers and writers so that this mindset takes root in their thinking. Try to incorporate a reading bulletin board in your classroom or in a space at home as a further call to develop the reading habit.
Use technology for online reading materials
There are many sites that have libraries of books that are free for your children to read. If you can make use of these, do so. However, a word of warning – limit your children’s screen time especially when they are young,
A novel idea for busy mums is to make use of reading grannies. These are older people in the community, possibly retired citizens, who might have some spare time where they could read to your children if you are a parent. Schools could also make use of them to listen to individual readers or group readers. Some families also make use of programs like Skype for this purpose.
Positively affirm the readers in your class
Verbally encourage those who make reading a priority. Your words of approval and affirmation will set a tone in your classroom that reading is important and worth doing.
Invite authors to your classroom
If you are a teacher, try to find out about local authors and invite them to come and tell your class about their reading and writing habits.
Give your own book talks in the classroom or at home
A book talk is a short presentation about a book with the aim of convincing other people to read it. Book club members often practice this skill at their monthly meetings. In a book talk, try to engage the listeners and present a fun, exciting summary of a book. You might want to focus on the plot or on a character, but the result should get your learners thinking ‘I want to read that’.
Personalise book content
Let your learners relate the stories they hear to their own lives. This increases their understanding of life. It also promotes reflection, and real learning takes place in times of reflection. In discussing books with your class or at home, constantly mention how a book related to your own life.
It is all too easy for children to sit passively when they could be feeding their brains while reading. If every parent and teacher took the time to instill a love of reading in children under their supervision, imagine the heights we would reach in South Africa!