Avid Readers or Not?

It’s an interesting task to think through what would you like your children to be like when they are adults. I know there are a few things I don’t want my children to be like yet what I would like them to become can become quite a long list. Earlier this week, while meeting with teachers in a professional learning group, we were discussing a list of attributes that groups of parents had identified as what they’d like their children to be like as adults. The list, from the book ‘Creating Cultures of Thinking’ included attributes such as curious, engaged, able to persevere, empathetic, willing to take risks and try new things, able to problem solve, helpful, passionate about something, a listener, open-minded and so on.

As a group we evaluated the list by thinking what we, as teachers in a Christian school, would like our students to be like and whether there were any attributes we would like to add. As a collective we thought we would add gentle, loving, trustworthy, servant hearted (or service minded), to act with integrity, a disciple who loves the Lord, and to possess Biblical Wisdom. Collectively we identified ‘go getter’ as one which we would like to remove and possibly replace it with ‘shows initiative’. One of our group though wanted to challenge the notion that our children should become ‘avid readers’, however, following some rigorous debate being an avid reader remained on the list (English teachers can be quite persuasive!). We did decide that we don’t need to be digesting classic novels at every opportunity but that we should be reading something regularly, be it newspapers, blogs, novels, textbooks or even ‘how to’ websites.

Some children are easy to motivate to read but for others it can be a real battle. However, there are a number of things that we can do to encourage our children to read:

  1. Read to your children regularly from a young age and continue as they get in to the late Primary years (or even beyond). Reading aloud to your child can help improve the fluency of their own reading, helps expand their vocabulary and improve their comprehension.
  2. Be a positive role model. As well as reading to your child, it’s also important that your children see you reading and that you are reading for pleasure as well as by necessity. Boys particularly will benefit greatly from seeing their fathers regularly.
  3. Provide opportunities and resources for your children to read. Provide age appropriate books or resources that will engage them. Much to my mother’s displeasure I still have a box of Rugby League Week magazines in a cupboard at her house that she faithfully bought for me each week because she knew that I’d read them cover to cover. It will most likely be something different for your child but having something they want to read is a good start.
  4. Don’t discourage them from reading the same book over and over again. While it gets boring for us to read the same story over and over again, there’s obviously something about the book that brings them back again and again. Having “Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?” stuck in your head day after day might not be great for you as the parent but is probably have a positive effect on your child.