The ability to read is doubtlessly one of the most important fundamental skills a child can have, and without it, his or her education course will have suffered a stillbirth right from the outset.
S/he will never even be able to master all the other subjects if they can’t read. So, reading isn’t something one can take lightly at all. Many children do get to love books and reading. But how about the reluctant reader, one who has no interest in reading books whatsoever? How do you handle them?
I quite clearly remember when my younger brother and I were in primary school; we weren’t much of readers. But one of our teachers encouraged us to visit our town’s public library, which in a pleasant coincidental twist, was attached to our school. We walked into the library and got overwhelmed by this huge array of books arranged in a series of bookshelves, one after another.
We were further intimidated by the number of people, mostly adults, at the reading tables, reading silently. We didn’t even know where to start, and often found ourselves staring, fingering and leafing through books whose contents we couldn’t make heads or tails of.
But just to appease our teacher, we grabbed any books we thought would serve the purpose and headed for the librarian’s table. We suddenly bumped into our Science teacher, a pleasant lady who always looked out for her pupils. She took one look at the books each one of us was clutching and stopped us in our tracks.
She turned us back and had us return the books to their shelves. She led us to a section of books written for younger minds. She then picked books by Enid Blyton, the famous British children’s writer. We were, however, horrified by the number of pages each book had and were convinced we would never get round to finishing them.
Books were loaned out for 14 days, but we returned the books even before seven days, having read every page, almost non-stop, and after swapping the books between us! We fell in love with reading from then on, and by the time I sat for my PLE, I was reading novels read by secondary and university students!
I have always attributed my reading and writing abilities to this one incident in my life and will forever be indebted to this lady, who sadly passed on not long after. Carol Quick, a clinical social worker, observes that for all children, being at ease with letters, their sounds, and words is an important foundation for learning throughout life.
She advises parents to identify what captures a child’s interest and imagination and start the reading project there.
“Comics or joke books may not be your first choice to boost literacy, but the reality is they can be very motivating. Children will often amaze you with their ability to read something that they really want to read,” she says.
I recollect sometimes going to my mother as a little boy in primary school to solicit for money to buy books.
“And if you go and buy those books with funny drawings (comic books), you’ll be in trouble with me,” she would always warn. I would buy the ‘serious’ books but would always save some for the ‘comics.’ I greatly believe that comic books enriched mine and my brother’s vocabulary and educated us on the way of life in Europe and America.
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