Kids today are exposed to many different forms of entertainment from a young age. Mobile phones, video games, films and television all give an instant form of gratification and engagement. It seems very easy to get accustomed to these quickly accessible forms of entertainment.
We know that in schools everywhere today, kids are being taught to read, but what else can be done to encourage them to engage in different forms of literature? Well let's begin to answer that question.
Work in the Classroom
It seems quite simple really, but it's the first place to start. By getting kids to read as a class you can take reading from being a quiet, individualistic experience and make it a group activity. Afterwards, teachers can then organise their pupil's into groups and get them to list themes or characteristics from the stories they have just read.
The importance of this being that group study not only helps the students to engage in the material, it also simultaneously makes reading a more relevant group activity-like that of watching a film or television program.
For films there are cinemas, for music there are concert halls and nightclubs, and for readers of literature there is the library as a social space. Regularly, many libraries organise open-day talks and discussions for young children. This is to teach them what kinds of books are available and how they are organised.
Often at these events there are special story readings prepared as well. This allows the children to see in a visual sense what kind of stories they can find for themselves later, in a relaxed setting.
With a book club you can begin to organise students by setting them assignments to help them express their feelings on the books they have just read. Examples of this would be to get them to write a short review or have a series of group discussions. By getting them to focus on what they liked and didn't like, this will help them appreciate what they most enjoy about literature..
But the positives don't just include the development of analytic ability, , you could also have the pupils break down character and emotions and set writing tasks based on the most recent book they've read. Say for instance, get the children to write a fictional diary entry from one character's perspective, or even that of a bystander, who witnessed the action unfold
The introduction of book swaps to students is a great way to expose them to different kinds of literature, and, as they grow older, this will begin to help them develop their individual tastes. Likewise, book swaps put students in a position where they have to explain to one another what the book they have been reading was all about, to the other exchangers. This will also help improve the pupil's analytical skills.
Comparative Mood Boards
In a group situation, after reading a book, organise the pupils to produce a kind of â€˜mood board' to examine how the mood and emotions of the story changed throughout the text. This could also be done as a way to examine characters, or in some circumstances, to compare a novel to a film adaption and the varying ways they differ from one another. This activity allows the children to think and compare the differences between the two mediums, with narratives based on the same subject.
There are of course many other methods of cultivating a love of literature. . A personal diary for instance, allows the student to write down their daily activities and thoughts. Over time they may begin to realise how this is an expression of how they feel and who they are. Once this has become apparent to them, it may pique their interest in reading a novel, to see how other people's perspectives have been reflected upon with language.
It is important that we must encourage reading in the younger generations. To do this we must begin by showing children that reading is fun, with the help of some seasoned storytelling adults (perhaps found in your local library). Secondly, they need encouragement to read, perhaps by making it a group activity by reading in the classroom or as part of a book club. And finally, reading should be supplemented with creative tasks that get them to reflect on the work they've just read.
Hopefully, by following these tips, the child will engage with reading and begin to develop their tastes in literature.
By rewarding students in the classroom with fun tasks, you won't need to pressure them into reading.
Do you have any other ideas for cultivating a love of reading in children? Please leave a comment below.
Budding writer Steven McHugh attempts to provide context to the argument of encouraging a literary passion to a younger generation. Whilst, at the same time, questioning why it's important and why reading as a pastime might be fading?