Children who read for pleasure almost every day tend to have better vocabulary which helps them handle a wide variety of texts with ease. On the other hand, children who need to expand their vocabulary are those who are likely to be slower and read less material. They read less because they understand less because of poor vocabulary. Without the right kind of support, they avoid reading. As they get older, the gap between children who read and those who don’t keeps growing.
Encouraging children to read for pleasure is very important. Learning to read is a difficult skill. Sometimes this can be incredibly frustrating for children. Once they have passed this level, developing an interest in reading on their own mostly develops over time with the necessary support and motivation.
Support can take the form of storytelling sessions, parents reading a story aloud every day as part of bonding time, discussions around books that have been read, etc. In other words, making books a constant companion in their daily lives in multiple ways facilitates children’s appropriation of books.
Generally, children aged nine and around find less time to read. Time spent in school increases, as do extracurricular activities after school. These other interests begin to occupy time slots and the emphasis on reading for pleasure diminishes considerably. This has a huge impact on a child’s comprehension abilities, vocabulary and writing skills.
Motivation to read for pleasure
Book clubs can bridge this gap. How? Reading should not be a solitary activity. Book clubs set the stage for discussions based on a common book, usually chosen by the group or sometimes by the facilitator leading the book club, depending on certain predetermined factors.
Either way, children’s book clubs, when run with the intention of supporting all kinds of readers, can be an incredibly helpful tool in a child’s reading journey.
Less enthusiastic readers can end up with enthusiastic readers who highlight the joy they derive from reading books. The positive outcome would be if the unenthusiastic reader develops a healthy camaraderie with an enthusiastic reader and, in the process, cultivates a desire to become a reader.
On the other hand, if the book club leader is not careful, less enthusiastic readers’ lack of confidence in their reading abilities could deepen, thus depriving these children of the benefits of a book club altogether. reading.
Exploring new genres and easing the transition to books with chapters: Children who are beginning readers are sometimes hesitant to try new books on their own. Reading in a group and the support of an animator go a long way in allowing these children to overcome the fear of reading something new.
The same is true when children try to make the transition from chapter books to picture books. Chapter books are longer and can be intimidating for many children who give up on picture books.
Learn to enjoy a book
This is something that may not be possible when a child is reading a book on their own. There would always be a tendency to get carried away with the content. Facilitator-initiated book club discussions help break down the concept of the book into parts such as characters, their personalities and roles in the story, story setting, plot, issue, writing style, etc.
This kind of discussion opens perspectives and paves the way for the analysis of different approaches to writing. Over time, children begin to appreciate the differences in writing styles and the corresponding impact they create on readers. They become more observant as readers and learnings from these experiences help them hone their writing skills even better.
In sum, reading for pleasure can go a long way in improving a child’s vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing skills. The good news is that reading as an activity can also be entertaining, as long as the child is allowed to experiment with a variety of books. Children’s book clubs are instrumental in helping children gain exposure to a variety of genres and develop a keen interest in reading.
(The author is the founder of Talking Circles, a confidence-building program for children)