Reading for pleasure, a door to our future
Adolescents will need to read and write more than other time in history, argues Hollie Slater, Grade 1 teacher at International School Saigon Pearl (ISSP) in Vietnam. The simplest way to ensure we raise literate children is to teach them to read and feed their imaginations.
Young people who enjoy reading are five times as likely to read above the expected level compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all. I found this particularly interesting because there are increasing stories in the media reporting there is a decline in reading frequency. Many teachers are concerned that children are not reading enough, and parents are not reading to their children. But why does this matter?
As a teacher, I always tell parents that one of the key things they can do at home to help their child achieve is to read, read, read! Reading has been shown to increase vocabulary, attainment, scores on academic tests, math, grammar… the list goes on. Essentially, reading is fundamental to learning and growth.
This year I have focused the development of my own teaching on reading strategies. But, in a world dominated by technology and social media, why is reading books so important? A few years ago, I remember reading articles that suggested books would eventually be obsolete. However, it is clear that with technological advances, reading is even more critical.
Yet, the most common reason for giving up on books was lack of time. Perhaps, this is because people see reading as an indulgence. It may be this idea that we need to change in our children. Reading is a necessity in our lives.
While researching for this article, I discovered that the building of private prisons in America to meet future need is being predicated on a simple algorithm: what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds could not read. Furthermore, in 2007, Chinese delegates were sent to work with corporations that were changing the future, such as Google, Apple and Microsoft. A common thread was found amongst the inventors of the future—they all read science-fiction when they were younger.
Therefore, it is evident that those changing our world are those that read for pleasure when they were younger. They opened their imaginations and created new worlds, and envisioned a new future. Fiction can show you a different world; a different way of life.
Reading is fundamental, it really is that simple. It changes our outlook on life and how we communicate with others. Not just in children, but in adults too. It is apparent that reading for pleasure is vital and impacts our future prospects.
We can start by asking ourselves these questions: How often does my child read? How often do I read to my children? How often do I read?