Some children develop a passion for reading at a young age and never lose it. Others love reading and then fall off the literature train as they get older and find other distractions. A lot dislike reading and aren’t afraid to say so. The 21st Century has arguably made it more difficult to help children develop a passion for reading, but the benefits of reading are far-reaching meaning our efforts as educators are more important than ever. Here are 3 ideas for helping children to develop a passion for reading.
Model a passion for reading
As with most activities we expect children to partake in, it’s a good idea to model what good looks like. Help children envisage what a passion for reading looks like and how enriching it can be. It also helps to fend off any feelings of unfairness that young children often feel so intensely. “If I have to do it, why don’t you?”
The benefits of modelling a passion for reading are two-fold. If you spend time reading and sharing what you read with the children in your class, you can also spend time getting to know the books you’re hoping they will read. Read children’s books and lots of them. Not only will you be able to engage in conversation with your pupils, but you will also be able to easily recommend books to them too.
- Share what you’re reading.
- Read with them during silent reading time.
- Talk about books and recommend where you can.
All the books!
Books, books, books. This one is simple, fill your classroom and school with all the books! The more choice you provide pupils, the better. Although, if you do have pupils prone to feeling overwhelmed with too much choice, that’s where your classroom book corner can come in handy. Choose books for that corner that suite the tastes and needs of your class.
It’s a good idea to think carefully about mixing up what’s available in your school for pupils. Some will mostly enjoy non-fiction, some tastes will go as narrow as, “I only like to read biographies of sports people.” Can you cater for those more picky readers? Streamlined tastes like these should be provided for to get them on the reading train; once they’re on, you’ll be able to open their eyes to other types of books. But you need to get them onboard first.
Before investing in new (or used – charity shops are great for when you’re tightening the purse strings) books, ask your class what books they like. If they say none, ask probing questions about their general tastes. They WILL enjoy something that will indicate potential genres. They play Call of Duty? War books! They like cartoons on TV? Comedy books is the way forward. There’s ways around every answer.
- Fill your school with all the books.
- Cater for individual tastes no matter how narrow.
- Quiz your pupils for genres of video games, films and TV shows they like to help you choose books to put in your book corner.
All types of reading is good
Daniel Pennac’s book The Rights of the Reader is an interesting read for anyone hoping to encourage young people to read. His 10 point manifesto makes all circumstances of reading okay. One of the most interesting points is, ‘The right not to finish a book.’ There can be huge pressure on all readers to finish a book they have started. But if that means a book takes months to finish, when we could have been reading many other more enjoyable books, is that helping to develop a passion for reading? The Rights of the Reader puts enjoyment of reading at the centre of what’s important and that’s hopefully what we’re aiming for, here.
- Conside the Rights of the Reader and put enjoyment of reading at the centre of your efforts.
- Make it okay for children not to finish books they’re not enjoying.