It is an undisputed fact that literacy skills are essential for success in education. Focussing on classics such as CS Lewis, Dickens and Bronte develops an important appreciation of not only ‘great’ literature, but also our cultural heritage. However, does this encourage reading for pleasure and how can we inspire youngsters to read, when there is so much competition for their time, such as social media, gaming and TV?
It is my belief that the first step is to have books, stored in an easily accessible place, as a regular part of their lives from a young age. Both parents should take turns reading with children at bed-time so they see male and female role models who enjoy reading – particularly important for boys. Get them used to reaching for a book when they have a few minutes of downtime, especially just before bed.
It is yet to be proven if reading pages or a screen makes any difference, but it is my view that there is no substitute for the feeling of satisfaction from turning the last page of a good book.
To gain enjoyment from reading, the subject matter is most important. Even if books are about cars, football, ponies or their favourite band member’s autobiography, reading for pleasure must involve a subject of interest. Just as trends in music change, so do the issues faced by youngsters when growing up. When it comes to fiction, associating with the characters in a book, engaging with the story and stimulating the imagination is far more likely if the story recounts feelings or experiences which are familiar to a youngster growing up in 2013.
School librarians are a good place to start for advice on authors and titles which cover more current topics and age appropriate story themes. Good luck!