Whenever I meet a student who hates reading it breaks my heart. The books I read growing up taught me about life and adventure and friendship. As a kid (and before the days of video games) I used to stay awake at night and let my imagination come alive with these characters that I felt like I knew personally. I read John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow when the war began’ series in year 6, 8 and 10 – and then again a few years ago as an English tutor and it made me realise how much the values shared by Ellie and the gang-influenced my view of the world as a teenager.
I don’t need to go into the benefits of reading – if you read then you know them already. It allows you to understand different people’s lives. It encourages imagination. It is like having a personal discussion with someone and enables you to learn from their wisdom.
But with the rise in technology, students are spending less time reading and more time on their phones. Attention spans have reduced, so getting a teen to sit down and read a book can be a challenge.
To cultivate a passion for reading try these 5 steps:
Work at their ability level
If a student struggles with reading it won’t be fun for them. Find something that they can handle, and work up from there. There are some great easy-to-read books, such as ‘the diary of a wimpy kid’ series that gets younger students reading. From there they can tackle some of the popular teen series, like Harry Potter, and then on to young-adult series like The Hunger Games or Twilight. Don’t expect them to jump straight to the top of the reading ladder – it requires steps that can take time. The support of an English tutor can certainly help!
Read what interests them
Find books that relate to what they love. There are books out there that target every different niche – really EVERY niche. It is a great opening to reading and will naturally interest them. If sport is their thing, find a novel on sport or give them a biography of their hero. If they are already passionate about the subject it will be easier to get them reading.
Get them thinking critically
When you talk to them about what they have read, ask them questions that go beyond simple recounts. “What would you have done in that situation?”. “How do you think that made her feel?”. “What is the message of the book?”. Teaching them to think critically will help them stand up for themselves and ultimately see a reason for reading.
Make reading a necessity
I always tell the parents of my students that daily reading is key. An hour here and there is not going to help – it has to be a daily discipline, and the easiest way of doing this is by making it a necessity. Get them to read things that will help you – get them to read a recipe for dinner, or get them reading you the weather report for the next day. Integrate it in to their daily life and it will get easier, making reading for enjoyment much more likely.
Set an example
If they see you reading, they will do the same. If all they see is you watching TV, they won’t be interested in reading. Turn the TV off one night a week and have a reading night, or read together for the last half hour before bed each night. As with everything, your children will do what they see you doing, so make reading something they see you doing regularly.
Hopefully these 5 tips will inspire a love of reading in your child. If you can cultivate that passion now they will thank you for years to come!Considering a tutor for your child? We can help! We have amazing tutors ready to go that will help your child grow in confidence, love the learning experience and ultimately realise what they are capable of. Learn more here and book their first lesson online today!