Time and time again I am asked by exasperated parents “how can I get my child to enjoy reading?!” My answer is always the same – “don’t ever battle with your child about reading, it’s simply not worth it”.
Just to make my position clear, I think it is absolutely vital for children to read, but reading should be seen as a pleasurable pastime, rather than a chore. Now I know there will be lots of parents who will argue this is easier said than done when the reading book comes home each night and you are required to sign their reading record. However, my point is this, there are plenty of ways to skin a cat and the traditional method of seating your child down whilst they read through a Biff and Chip book is just one way your child can evidence their reading ability. The child who battles with you to read the latest magic key instalment is the same child who reads a restaurant menu with eloquence and rattles off the intricate features of a toy, which are written on the side of the box. It’s simply a question of levels of engagement.
Some would argue children should simply read what they are given, and we shouldn’t look to pander to their whims – it is their education after all and you just don’t get to choose what you want and don’t want to do. My argument is that if reading is a way of assessing children’s ability to comprehend text, make sensible inferences and demonstrate they can sound out and decode words they have not seen before, then they can do this with any text; be it reading interesting non-fiction material, leaflets, comics, or passages from more challenging books which their parents reads with them. It’s about keeping the purpose of reading in our minds first and foremost and dropping the obsession with reading levels.
We have to remember that children are unique and access their learning in different ways; one size simply doesn’t fit all.