I woke up this morning to the news headlines. One of the items was about a new report by the Grattan Institute saying that one third of Australian children can’t read properly!
In some ways, this made me really upset, both as a reader and as a mum. I have had my own issues with the school system, but hearing that they aren’t teaching the basics to school kids made me really sad.
Then I got thinking.
I know there is no one size fits all to learning to read, just as with any other skill. Some kids need phonics, some need a whole language approach. Teachers need more support to teach reading.
I remember volunteering in my kids’ classrooms when they were in Prep to listen to kids reading. I wonder if those volunteers are no longer available to support these kids.
Another memory I have is going to speak to the teacher and telling her that my child would no longer be doing readers that were set. Why? Because it was a battle to get my child to read them, and because my child was reading other books that were engaging and inspired him to read. My children didn’t care what the reading level was, they wanted a story that was engaging. If they didn’t understand words or phrases, they would come and ask for help, and we did a lot of reading together. They key was to have engaging stories, especially once they passed the very basic stages of learning to read.
This need for engaging stories hasn’t left.
I know in my own reading, I read those books that engage me in their stories. It doesn’t matter the reading level, and if you look at the books I read, I read a lot of books aimed at children because I find the stories engaging and enjoyable.
I believe that teaching children how to read for enjoyment, how to find the books they want to read, and to encourage them to read the books that they enjoy is an important part of learning to read. So many young people aren’t engaged in reading as they are offered it as something that is forced on them, often with books they don’t enjoy reading. There is a point where the books presented have skills that kids need to learn, and that is important too. Once kids have grasped the basics, then they need to learn to have fun reading and all the benefits that extend beyond literacy. You’ll be surprised at how quickly their reading will improve by reading the books they love, even if you think those books are ‘too easy’.
It’s also important for parents to model reading to their kids, and some tips on that is another blog post.
I want to encourage people to read for fun, and by reading for enjoyment, they will be engaged in reading and their literacy and reading skills will improve. I am starting a reading program, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a few years. It’s now open for registration, so please check out Melissa’s Reading Corner and join in the fun.