Why it’s so important for kids to LOVE reading

November 17, 2017 by Minerva Tutors,

We often hear about the importance of reading, and how much it can benefit a child’s education. But it’s not just about reading because they have to, or because it’s part of their homework, but learning to love reading too. At Minerva’s Treehouse Reading Club, we’re trying to help local young people develop a love for books and a passion for reading. This  week, we spoke to Ross, a children’s author, and Tessy, a primary teacher, about why it’s so important for kids to learn to love reading.

Ross Montgomery, and his most recent book, below

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Hey Ross! Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn to read at a young age?

Reading is a very challenging thing to do, and daunting for a young child – as they get older they’re expected to rely on it more and more, and if they feel they’re falling behind they’re likely to consider it a chore at best or a punishment at worst. But it’s also one of the most rewarding things they can ever learn to do – a way of letting the entire world inside them and approaching it at their own pace. Teach a child to love reading and you’ve opened a whole universe of possibilities to them.

 

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The Building Boy, Ross’s first book for younger readers (age 3 – 8)

Do you think it benefits other areas of learning?

I do a lot of school visits, and the ones that always amaze me are schools where they’re prioritised reading for pleasure. That’s increasingly considered a risky thing to do as so much of the curriculum is based on spelling, punctuation and grammar. But what all those schools will tell you – and what is always obvious once you see it for yourself – is that places where reading is shown to be fun and a desirable activity has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the school. Children end up teaching themselves more just by reading – it shows them that learning and absorbing can be entertaining and empowering rather than just a thing they have to do five days a week.

What do you think are the best books for reluctant readers?

When in doubt, I always go for humour! There’s a reason why books like DIARY OF A WIMPY KID have been phenomenally popular, especially with traditionally reluctant readers – they’re funny, they’re relatable, the plots aren’t demanding, and the text is broken up with illustrations. All those elements help to make a book seem less exhausting that it must seem to the average eight year old who doesn’t relate to reading in the same way they might relate to films or sport!

 

Do you have any fun stories about kids learning to read?

When I was a teacher, we had a World Book Day assembly where the children all came to school dressed as their favourite book characters. One Year 6 girl came as Christian from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. We tested her on it and everything. Disclaimer: it was a pretty posh school.

 

Hahaha, that’s amazing. Cheers, Ross!

 

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Ross has already produced four brilliant children’s books, including The Tornado Chasers, Perijee and Me, and the Costa Children’s Book Award-shortlisted Alex, the dog and the uponenable door – as well as The Building Boy  (for younger readers). His newest book, Christmas Dinner of Soulsa collection of gruesome (yet festive) horror stories – has just hit the shelves! You can buy all of Ross’s books here, and also check out our interview with him last year about getting kids to read more.

 

 

Tessy has been a teacher for four years, teaching mainly younger children (age 3-6) as well as working with some older middle school students. She’s taught at schools in Canada, Korea and India. She says that in her classes, they always have books open, and incorporate reading into every activity. 

 

 

Hi Tessy! Why would say it’s so important for kids to learn to read at a young age?

It’s important because young children are capable of a lot more than adults give them credit for, and to be exposed to reading helps them develop many skills which they build upon and carry with them throughout their lives. Often parents are shocked by the amount work their child is able to accomplish – or the opposite. They have a dated definition of what reading is. Reading actually starts with storytelling, some children do this verbally and some visually through illustrations. The abilities to either be able to retell non-fiction, perhaps a family trip they went on, or create fiction, is the foundation upon which reading skills are built. Young children can absorb so much that giving them the tools to develop their reading skills opens up many opportunities. Not only the ability to decode words and recognise common sight words, but also to build their comprehension and analytical skills. I have also seen it help build a tremendous amount of confidence and independence as a child learns how to read.

 

Do you think it benefits other areas of learning?

Of course! As mentioned earlier, reading opens up many opportunities because children build their confidence, independence and endurance. Learning to read is not easy and students go through large growth periods and also plateaus. The plateaus are great opportunities to reflect and set goals. The same as you would do when tackling a tricky project, or learning a new language etc. Reflection and goal setting are skills that can be applied to not only areas of learning, but life in general!

 

What do you think are the best books for reluctant readers?

Honestly it’s about finding something that interests the reader. I wouldn’t say I was reluctant but it wasn’t my favourite thing to in school until I discovered Goosebumps! Once I found that series I was reading all the time. So I have many different genres available in the classroom and ones from many different levels. – it’s important for kids to be able to read what they want to read.

 

Brilliant Tessy, thanks so much!

 

 

The Treehouse Reading Club meets every Monday at 5:30 – 6:30 at Pop Brixton, as part of Pop’s After School Kids Club, for ages 5 – 10. You can book a free place via www.popbrixton.org if you’re based in the local Brixton/Lambeth area and would like your kids to be involved – but spaces are limited! You can get in touch with us by calling the Temple of Minerva on 0208 819 3276, or email us on hello@minervatutors.com for the Treehouse Reading Club, and all other enquiries.

 

 

By David Bard

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David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about everything that’s trending in education.

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