“Children’s reading and children’s thinking are the rock bottom base upon which this country will rise. Or not rise. In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that books for children have a greater potential for good or evil, than any other form of literature on Earth.” - Theodor Seuss Geisel (1960)
Fifty-eight years have elapsed since Dr. Seuss, an American political cartoonist, poet, artist, author, and book publisher of more than 60 children’s books, accentuated the power of reading and its impact on children and the world. Until this day, his statements remain true.
Reading is a process of meaning making. It involves analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating newly acquired information in aims of making sense of what has been read. Individuals read for various purposes and through different mediums. Some read for entertainment purposes, such as enjoying a novel right before bed. Some others read for information purposes, such as examining academic articles or books in search for answers.
Regardless of the purpose or the platform, it is undeniable that with reading comes power. The more students read, the more knowledge they acquire. And with this knowledge, students develop critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, and leadership abilities, among other essential 21st century skills. And this, in essence, is the ultimate goal of education. It is, thus, imperative that educators and parents promote a rich reading environment.
However, things do not always seem as easy as we want them to be. Often times, we hear students saying that they are not fans of reading. Or, with the amount of homework they have, reading seems impossible to do.
Here is a list of the top three common problems students face and ways to solve them.
1. “I don’t like to read!”
Unfortunately, some students believe that reading is not something they take joy in. That is not necessarily true, though. Students need to start reading about topics that they truly enjoy. Whenever possible, give them an option or take them to the library and have them pick the book that they think best suits them.
Students need to perceive that reading is not a chore. When we force books on them and ask them to prepare book reports or answer a long list of questions, they won’t have the will or the time to connect to the book.
2. “No one else is doing it.”
Students learn a lot through observing things around them. They need to see that reading could actually be a soothing activity in itself. So, when they see us, as educators and parents, grabbing a book in our spare time and sipping from a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, they tend to do the same. Modeling desirable behavior yields that same behavior.
3. “I don’t know what to read!”
Choosing the right book is one hard task. Not every book is going to be as engaging as the other, and that’s okay. One of the things that I, personally, do before buying a book is not reading the title or the short blurb at the end. In fact, it is reading the first page of that book. Reading the very first page of the first chapter could tell a lot about a book. Primarily, from the page, you can tell whether the book has the ability to hook you up. That page would either make you want to continue reading or would make you want to put the book down! You can also tell whether you are comfortable enough with the style of writing employed by the author. Are the words too hard? Too easy? Does the writing include plenty of descriptive language? Is it fast-paced?
Finally, the key is to keep trying and to keep encouraging students to read. Do not give up on the first try. Show them the joy in reading and avoid forcing them into it. Read to them, read with them, and read next to them!
And happy readings, always!