Daniel Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of the book Raising Kids Who Read, is a faithful advocate of reading, but not only because of its importance in the academic world. Daniel is a defender of reading because, for him, it is a value. “If the goal is to be a good citizen or the goal is to earn a lot of money, I can think of more direct ways to achieve those goals,” says the psychologist at Mind Shift., clarifying that reading, for him as a father and expert, goes beyond success in itself. “For me, it’s a family value. It’s something that I love, something that I consider important. I believe that I gain experiences that I would not gain in any other way by virtue of being a reader. And, naturally, I want my children to experience it”, explains Daniel, who in his book offers advice so that children choose reading over other things.
Although their advice is mainly aimed at parents who want to foster a taste for literature in their children, the psychologist offers a look to the general reader, a look that can be practical both for them and for teachers who work daily for conquering his students with reading. And what does the author suggest?
1. One of the things that stands out is the importance of encouraging the love of reading very early.
For this, it is vital to turn it into something pleasant. Parents can do so by designing situations where the book and reading are associated with pleasant moments. An example of this is reading aloud at a positive family time. It is key, says the psychologist, to install in the family the desire to learn new things about the world and to associate this with reading.
2. For parents who use incentives for their children to read, Daniel recommends that they not use this strategy as a first option.
There is a possibility, he says, that the child thinks that the only reason to read is because he receives something in return. Then, when the rewards are over, the child may think that reading does not make any sense and that he only did it for the pleasure of accessing the reward.
3. Do not forget the importance of self-concept, says the psychologist.
What do you mean by self-concept? Basically to the way children see themselves as readers. They can know that reading is good and that reading can be a means to strengthen certain competencies. However, they do not read. Daniel compares this to broccoli. A person can know that this vegetable is healthy, but if you do not like it, there is not much to do about it … Based on this, Daniel rescues the importance of talking about the attitudes that children have towards reading and not forgetting the self-concept as something essential. Children have to be seen as readers, otherwise, reading only becomes an obligation. And how can you see yourselves as readers? This is very much associated with fostering a love for this activity from the first days of life.
4. Daniel also talks about graphic novels as a means to encourage reading in young people.
Although they have become more common in recent years, he considers that it can be a gateway for those young people who believe that reading offers them nothing. Through these, they can arrive at another type of reading, and if they do not, says the psychologist, he would feel happy if the graphic novel becomes the reading pillar of his children.
5. A great challenge is to get children to read on vacation, so he recommends some strategies:
One is to put books in spaces or environments where there is not much to do, such as the car or the bathroom. “My wife is a teacher and she tells parents all the time: put books in her children’s bathroom. And it is amazing what children read when there are books in the bathroom, “says the psychologist in an interview with Mind Shift. The second thing that can be done is “impoverish the environment”. Although Daniel says he does not like to use that term, the idea of doing this basically means restricting the use of other things that can “beat” books. Restricting screen time is an obvious version of that. It also recommends that, when a child does not want to have a nap, it is replaced by a time of silence and tranquility. “This is a time when a child who is too young to read could be looking at picture books.”
On vacation, another good way to get children to read is by structuring some things and designing categories of activities that children can do. The categories can be associated with housework, outdoor activities or rest times inside the house, at which time they can play or of course, read. “This is a way of making a soft restriction on children’s activity as a way to encourage reading.”
With the strategies indicated, children can see books as a source of learning, but above all, as a source of entertainment. Parents and teachers must work hand in hand to make this possible and this means, join forces and strategies so that what happens in school has an impact on the house and vice versa.
Author: Mukesh Maheshwari
Writing is one of the main hobbies of Mukesh Maheshwari, by Profession Banker, Educator, Counsellor, Marketer, Speaker from last 12 years, by Education Engineer and MBA, worked with HDFC Bank, Kotak, Career Launcher etc. He has written more than 1000 contents on Education, Health Care, Finance etc. He has guided more than 1200 students on their career path. He has delivered sessions in more than 20 colleges on various topics. Check Mukesh Maheshwari profile and achievements.