I love to read. It upsets me greatly that so many today lack the desire to read, particularly when that ‘many’ is children. They say that a child who reads will be an adult who thinks – is this perhaps why there are generations of thoughtless people out there? Jacqueline Kennedy said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
(Of course, I am biased!)
I have always been an avid reader. I learnt from a young age that reading most certainly is for pleasure, and not just because school makes it a requirement.
My children were still in my belly when I began reading to them. Late nights and early mornings of Dr. Seuss, while they floated around in amniotic fluid, completely unaware of the antics of “Sam, I am”.
My daughter is ten, and can read for herself – which she very often does. But, at bedtime, when she is snug (and I still have a million things to do before I can disappear into duvet folds of slumber), there is this little voice that asks,
“Mommy, please can you read to me for a bit?”
And suddenly, the laundry and dirty dishes disappear from the foremost parts of my mind and there is no hesitation as I reach for her book, and begin to read.
The benefits of reading are evident in both of my children. My son has achieved an Honours blazer at school for excelling academically, but specifically for his contribution to the Council of English Education in our country – he has achieved gold awards four years in a row for contributions to short story writing, poetry, and language papers. (I have to add that the Council participation is voluntary.)
My daughter has been selected three years in a row to represent her school in the junior section of competitions for this same council, as part of a team, for language skills. (Selected as one of six, in a school of about six hundred.) They have won two out of three competitions – taking runner up in the one that they didn’t win.
Both of them have a talent for stringing words together, and no-one will ever be able to accuse them of having no expression or imagination. Yes, I blame reading. More importantly, I blame the fact that they were read to.
There is just so much to say about the subject of reading. But I am going to limit this post to the one thing that bothers me of late – the fact that these days so few children read, and almost as many parents just don’t seem concerned with this at all.
I love children. I love reading. I love teaching. Okay, so those are three things I love (plenty more, the list is endless) and I also happen to be a very passionate person. So in an effort to combine the passion of these three things, and of course my disappointment in the disinterest of children and reading, I started a reading club for kids. I read to them, and we discuss what we have read. It’s great fun interacting with 6 – 9-year-olds. I also add a fun filled activity to each session where they get to exercise their imaginations. The results are amazing.
I have seventeen little ones in my club. In a school of six hundred, this number is ridiculously low. I really wish more parents would encourage their children to read, because ultimately it is the parents who make the choice as to whether or not their children attend – and a lot of the children who attend have not ever picked up a book to read for enjoyment. This disappoints me.
But I’ll tell you what inspires me. I am told by my little students that I read ‘out loud’ so well and make it all sound so interesting that they have started reading at home. Mission accomplished. Hearing that my reading is the first time anyone has ever read to them (besides during school hours) is heartbreaking for me.
And then there is the kid who has made such good progress, and actually read a whole book for pleasure, who will no longer be attending reading club. His mother tells me they decided not to send him anymore, because now ‘all he wants to do is read’. She says this like it’s a bad thing?!?! What is happening to this world?
I end with this Dr Seuss quote : “You’re never too old, too whacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child!”