Why Read?

I recently posted about reading, why children may not enjoy their school reading and approaches you can take to it.  Whilst I happily state I really do not care what a child reads, whether it is games, websites, books, comics of even the Argos catalogue, I really do believe they should be reading something.  So today, we are going to explore five of the reasons why it is important to read.

  1. Vocabulary

Reading helps a child expand their vocabulary.  Think of all the different genres and the different types of words you will find in therein.  They will discover words they never knew existed and then begin to add them to their vocabulary.  How many kids love dinosaurs when they are young due to the fancy sounding names?  That magic of words never leaves you!

  1. Success

There have been studies conducted which show that children who read and were read to achieve better results all the way through to university!  Did you realise that short 15 minutes together a day could make such a difference over such a long period of time?

  1. Improvement

Children who read are exposed to different ways to write.  This can improve their writing, grammar and spelling.  I have seen whilst tutoring that improvements can be made through an increased time in reading books children enjoy.

  1. Confidence

The more you do something the easier it becomes and the more confidence you become at it.  This is true for reading!  Even reading to your child helps improve their technical reading skills.  As they grow more confident they will become more independent and be able to read alone.  This also has the advantage of keeping them occupied and out of mischief.

  1. Exploration

Reading exposes children to cultures different from their own.  It opens their eyes to the possibilities that exist in their world.  This increased understanding of others can help a child develop empathy.  So often children at young ages are playing violent games.  This can have a detrimental impact on them.  Carefully chosen books can do the opposite and help create children who care for their world.

I may have said five reasons but here is an extra one – it is free!  We are lucky in that we really do have some great libraries and they are free to borrow from.  From books to graphic novels, magazines to audio books, you can borrow them for free!  So why not get along and visit your local library?

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I don’t care what you read, just read!

As a teacher, and now as a tutor, I am often asked how a child can improve with their reading, writing, spelling or grammar.  There is always 1 simple answer to that.  Read.  Yup, you read that right, my simple answer is to read.  In my opinion, being a reader will teach you more about all these things than the best tutor or teacher can.  However, some children just do not enjoy reading. Why not and what do we do to encourage them?

So, your child gets reading homework and they hate it right?  It is a stress and you dread it.  But why might they feel that way?  I would suggest the problem is actually the books themselves.  Rarely, children get to pick their reading books.  This instantly can decrease enthusiasm for reading.  Furthermore, have you had a good look at most reading schemes within schools?  They often are not that interesting!  Would you enjoy being forced to read these books?  Can you blame your child for not wanting to read it?

What can you do?  I always tell parents that homework should not be a stress.  Children in the middle to upper primary years tend to be competent technical readers.  They have learned the skills to do this.  So, is it important that they read every word themselves?  I don’t think it is.  It is however important that they keep pace with the book, so they can complete work set by the teacher both in and out of school.  So, can you take turns reading paragraphs or pages?  Could it be their bedtime story?  Can they break the set pages down and attempt smaller chunks over several subsequent nights?

But stop a wee moment, whilst I might be saying it is ok not to read every word in their school book I am not saying do not read.  Reading is essential for children, but it must be something they enjoy.  There are many ways to get children to read without it being a book.  Do they like to cook or bake, why don’t they find the recipe and lead the way?  What about gaming? So many games have a lot of words and they do not even realise they are reading!  What about comics or magazines?  Reading really isn’t just books.  Think how often you read without it being a book, this blog for a start, Facebook, that text you just received, the care instructions on your new jumper or even the address on an envelope to make sure it is yours before you open it.  Words really are everywhere!

But if you really want to go the book route I would suggest you go to your local library, let them explore a huge range of genres for free!  From comics to magazine, novels and graphic novels, you’ll find them in there.  There are even audio books you can enjoy in the car.  If they enjoy that you can then suggest books by the same author.

So in short, I do not care what a child reads, merely that they read.