Technological development since the latter part of the 80s has affected the reading habits of adults and children alike. Just look at the first ten people you come across in a crowded room, subway train or at a coffee shop. Most people, including children some as young as 4, now a days have some form of technology on their person whether it be a smart phone or tablet. While this may not necessarily be a bad thing when used appropriately what has come to term is the fact that many students lack the skill of reading. Instead of curling up to a good book in a quiet area of their home, classroom or library, many of them are glued to a screen surfing the web, playing games or sending sms messages. Reading for many children and young adults is unfortunately becoming an archaic habit. This declining interest among our children is and rightly so, causing an alarm in more ways than one. Factor in the very busy lifestyles of today’s parents who have become accustomed to using technology as a form of babysitting and we have a recipe for future literary disaster.
However not all is doom and gloom. There are ways that we can help today’s youth rekindle the love for reading and in truth, it doesn’t take much readjusting to get them on the right track once more.
Here are some suggestions that we can all try with our children over a number of weeks. See what works best for your child/ren.
Get children to read together for 10 to 15 minutes. Each of them can take a turn reading a page!
One Word Each Dictionary Game: Dictionaries - remember these! There’s sure to be one lying around the home in storage somewhere. Sitting in a comfortable chair you and your child can think of one word and say it out loud for the other to find. See who can find the word faster! This can be a useful exercise in helping your child reinforce the alphabet, learn the meaning of a word and actually hold a book in his/her hand.
Make books special – buy them a book as a gift, take them to the library or create a special place in your home where books can be stored and read.
Wrap two or more books so that your child/ren won’t be able to see the cover and have him/her/them choose one of them to unwrap. That unwrapped book becomes the book that is read. Assign a time and day when your child/ren just sits on the couch for 10 – 15 minutes and read the story to them. It’s amazing how my students use to look forward to Friday afternoons when I had dedicated the last 15 minutes of the day before dismissal time for reading time. With cleared desktops, students reminded each other about the story to date and wondered what would come next in the story. The students simply listened to me reading to them and enjoyed it when the story got a little scary and I changed my voice and the speed I read to them.
Create a reading time, perhaps once or twice a week for about 15 – 20 minutes, where everyone, including you, sit down together as a family and read. If your children see you reading, they’ll follow your example, especially if you start this practice when they are at a younger age.
With a little thought and creativity we can continue to foster and encourage a lover for reading with today’s youth. We will not be able to stop the fast paced technological development of today’s world, nor should we attempt to do so as that would be a futile task. Rather, we should try to find islands of time within the week to slow things down slightly and spend some quality time with our children simply reading. Go ahead, give it a try. It’s their future ability to read with confidence and understanding that we’re kindling. Aren’t they worth it?