8 Ways Teachers Kill A Love of Reading Among Kids
Raising a reader is no easy task, any parent will tell you that. Which is probably why all parents solicit the help of school and teachers to instil the love of reading in their kids. As a child, growing up in Bangalore, my parents made sure I was a member of the local library and visited it to check out books at least once a week. One of my fondest memories from school was our library hour – an hour dedicated to library time where our teacher would let us choose whichever book we wanted from a library filled with thousands of books stashed in old wooden, creaky cupboards. We would then sit on old rickety benches by the windows and read for 50 minutes. When it was time to put the book away, we quickly scanned the shelf for a book we could issue next week. I would like to think this was the place I developed a love of reading.
Unfortunately, schools today are running for shorter hours and having to replace the library hour with other activities. Schools have a mandatory library period but it is often appropriated by other teachers wanting to finish the syllabus. The more often children see that a library period can be used for other tasks, the less important they think reading itself is. It is not uncommon for teachers to suggest children finish important classwork during the library period.
So how are teachers and our education system killing the love of reading? Here are 8 ways.
1. Choosing the book for the child
Image courtesy Great Commission Society.org
There is probably nothing worse for a child than the teacher choosing a book for them to read. Imagine walking into a library or a bookstore, looking at books of various shapes, colours, and sizes and having a grownup choose a book for you. Kills the urge to read, doesn’t it? To encourage a lifelong love of reading, let your child choose the book they would like to read.
2. Books not kept within reach
Image Courtesy Southerland shire council library
Experts agree that children must be surrounded by books for them to be curious about picking up a book to read. Books need to stare at kids from bookshelves and almost call out to them! When books are kept at a height that’s far from a child’s reach, the child will never ask for help to bring a book down. Make sure you always keep books on shelves kids can easily access. The more they see books around them, the more they will read, and fall in love with reading.
3. Just asking them to read, not showing them how
Very often children only hear the teacher or the parent talking of reading and never actually see the grownup actively reading a book! Make sure you allot 10 minutes of your class time once a week to a free-for-all reading session where even you bring a book and read at your desk. It is amazing how you can inspire a love of reading among kids just by sitting down and reading in front of them!
4. Being rigid about reading levels
Nothing kills the love of reading like telling your child a book is not of their reading level. Let them flip through the pages of a book; if they can’t read, they will reach for another one. If they want to read further on in a book or read the next one in the series, don’t stop them by saying it is only scheduled for the next week or they shouldn’t read ahead. Instead, encourage them to read as much as they want.
5. Overload of activity-based reading
Imagine if you read a book for pleasure and then had to write a project on it. Dampens the desire to pick up another book, doesn’t it? Reading in schools often comes with reading-based projects, comprehension questions, and worksheets to complete. As teachers, don’t plan too many textbook or exam type activities around a book. Instead, design fun quizzes, character parades, or even role-playing to motivate and foster their love of reading. GetLitt! has some amazing challenges to keep kids hooked and to encourage them to keep reading more books!
6. Forcing them to read, when they don’t want to
Ever been in a class where your teacher calls your name and you have to stand up and read out aloud to the whole class? This experience can be scary and daunting for those who can’t pronounce all the words correctly. Very soon these experiences influence whether a child will pick up a book to read or not. Teachers need to instead allow children to read when they feel like it – a time could be allotted at the beginning of the school day or just before recess. But forcing kids to read only deters them from picking up a book.
7. Not having enough access to new books
Image Courtesy Scholastic.com
Even if kids aren’t reading the books kept in the classroom, a teacher must periodically bring in new books to continue to inspire kids to read. Seeing new books on the shelves will bring curious children to read and see what’s in those books. Love of reading can stem from simply wanting to look through new books.
8. Death of library hour
Image Courtesy Observerbd.com
Most schools these days offer a laundry list of the latest activities and most parents eagerly enrol their kids in many of them. Allotting time for activities in the daily class schedule means having to let go of regularly scheduled periods like library, reading etc. Parents need to make sure to talk to schools, and especially class teachers, to bring back library hour so children can do nothing for an hour but be surrounded by books at least once a week. Having nothing planned except to sit and read a book goes a long way in instilling a love of reading.
We are sure you agree with most, if not all, of the above points. Is your child’s school inspiring or killing a love of reading in them? Write in and tell us! Make sure you offer your child plenty of books to read at home with GetLitt!, the one place where kids have access to hundreds of books.
Rati Ramadas Girish is a true manifestation of an urban nomad. She has lived and learned in India, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and the USA. She began her career as a journalist with NDTV and then worked as a folklorist in Houston, Texas. Somewhere along the way she developed an irrepressible love for children’s literature and even wrote and published short stories in anthologies. Presently, she writes from home surrounded by her muses —two sons, a large dog, and her indulgent husband.