The right to read is often taken for granted. Not everyone grows up having free access to information. Not every child will have the chance be educated. Just ask Malalia Yousafzai what it cost her. When the Taliban took over part of Pakistan, forbidding girls from getting an education, Malalia fought for the right to attend school. When she was shot on the bus, no one expected her to survive. Yet, she recovered and wrote her memoir, I am Malalia, How One Girl Stood Up For Education and Changed the World inspiring others to take a stand, too.
Even in the United States where education is valued, books can be challenged. At the end of September, The American Library Association promotes Banned Books Week to foster the freedom to express one’s opinion and help make students aware that opportunity to read is not a given. Find out more about it in my previous post Celebrate Books the Memory of Mankind.
At my international school, we line the halls of our English floor with bookshelves filled with paperbacks, so our students can “grab and go.” We also celebrate the Reading Challenge during winter and summer term using every effort to promote reading.
I love that Free Little Reading Libraries movement has gone global. I found one in front of the fitness center in Divonnes-les-Bains,France where I swim. To promote the initiative, students painted old dressers and filled the drawers with free books. These bright-colored chests were placed around town where kids hang out: beside the lake, on the village square, in front the skate park and by public schools.
For someone raised in a family where the love of reading was passed down through the generations, I find it hard to fathom why anyone would not want to read. But not everyone grows up surrounded by tomes in a houseful of educators.
With all the other distractions today, it is becoming more difficult to interest kids in reading. Consequently, the number one question parents ask me at our teacher conferences is, “What can I do to get my child to read?”
“Do you read?” I ask.
When they tell me, “No,” I am not surprised that books are not their children’s priority either.
Here are few suggestions I offer parents to entice kids to crack open books.
- Take time out of your own busy schedule to read. Kids model adult behaviors.
- Make reading material readily available. Buy one of those old-fashioned bookshelves and fill it.
- Newsprint may be dying, but until then, let magazines and newspapers lounge around the house.
- Read to young children. No time? Too tired? Enlist the help of older siblings and other family members. Ask a grandparent if there is any greater joy than reading a favorite tale to that little body curled up in their lap?
- Connect with kids on their turf. If they hate the schools’ recommended reading list, create a new one. Taper it to tap into their interests. For example, if they love sports, pick up an autobiography penned by one of their favorite athletes.
- If your child has difficulty reading, give them audio books. Or have them read stories at a lower grade level.
- Get a library card. And use it. Going to the library is a great, fat-free, low cost, healthy habit.
Of course, reading off Kindles, iPads and other devices is okay; however, in our hyper fast-paced, electronic-laden lifestyles, is there any better way to escape the rat race than by losing oneself in the pages of a good book?
Be a rebel. Buy a book. Log off and read.
What are you reading today? Do you have any recommendations for a read-a-maniac like me or for any of the young adult readers that I teach?