Monday, July 27, 2015
Encouraging Reading to Improve Futures
With my college students I encourage them to read as it is important for their minds and their futures. I often am greeted by stares and replies that reading is boring. I believe that response is the result of years of mind numbing television that is passed off as entertaining. I try to emphasize to them what Dr. Ben Carson says about reading, “Reading activates and exercises the mind. Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts. Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined.” That quotes is from Dr. Ben Carson’s book, Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. That quote and Dr. Carson’s life are examples of how reading is a foundational block to success.
In my recent reading about reading I came across thoughts from two books at my local library that encourages reading in young people. The first book is Born Reading, by Jason Boog. The subtitle is very important is this era where reading is becoming less and less of a passion. His subtitle is “Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between. For the sake of a brighter future of humanity we need more bookworms.
Jason shares a major impetus for writing the book was his desire to share his passion for reading with his daughter. In the introduction of the book he discusses a study “How to Make a Young Child Smarter” in a 2013 issue of Perspectives in Psychological Science that showed increases in a child’s IQ through interactive reading. The article stated the earlier the better. So much of the book discusses interactive reading. This shows the importance of parents taking time to read to their children. Then when the children begin to read have them join in by reading aloud to the parents. The interaction increases by using the reading time to discuss the story or material that is being read.
Over the years we have often used after dinner time to read through a book as a family. Often it was our daughter doing the reading or we would take turns reading sections of book we were working through at the time. As Jason emphasizes, our reading time would include questions afterwards or sharing what the reading was about. That increases the effectiveness of interactive reading.
Jason discusses electronic readers and mentions research and even thoughts from App designers that encourage limiting the use of electronic devices with young children. He mentions a quote from one librarian that mentions how tablets have become the new babysitters. I see this in children in therapy whose parents complain they only want to play games on tablets and not do anything else. Yet who is allowing the children to be on the tablets gaming all the time? Parents need to take charge and have young children do more than stare at the tablets continually. I enjoyed reading Born Reading and thought one way to turn our faltering country back to a creative and critical thinking pro-growth country, would be to give every parent this book as they leave the hospital with their new born child.
Another book that was a standout in encouraging reading is Raising Ravenous Readers by Linda Schwartz. It focuses in on children 8-12. The book is more a variety of activities to help promote reading. Two major focuses of the book was to help young people find material to read based on what they are interested in. I know many college students have told me their struggle with reading was in school always being forced to read material that did not interest them. This can be turned around if in the important ages of 8-12 students are introduced to libraries and finding books on topics that interest them. Linda Schwartz promotes the use of libraries in her book.
She also like Jason Boog, emphasizes the importance of interactive reading in making some time as a family for reading. Have conversations with children about the books that they are reading. A passion for reading can be developed by simply reading to children for 20 minutes a day. I like how she emphasizes libraries but she also importantly mentions visiting children sections of bookstores. I remember hearing a story at a counseling convention of how for a contest, one small town school had winners in a state poster contest. The winning students received Barnes & Noble gift cards. The principal took the students to the nearest big city that had a Barnes & Noble store. She said the students had never been in a bookstore before and were amazed. So, opening young children’s minds to bookstores helps to build a passion for reading as well.
Bookworms need to keep multiplying by encouraging reading. The two books listed here can help in giving you ideas on how to encourage reading in young people in your sphere of influence.
Reflection: Who inspired your love of reading? How can you encourage a new generation of bookworms in your sphere of influence?