Why do we have so many children that choose not to read? As I pondered that question, I was watching a children's TV channel and decided to do some informal research. I decided to pay particular attention to the commercials being presented to our children. The following is what I discovered:
6 commercials about other TV shows
4 Food Commercials
7 commercials about toys
6 commercials about various video games and apps
0 commercials about books
The question of why our kids are not reading for pleasure is not a new one, but there is no easy answer. All we can do is speculate. For example:
• Kids don't read for pleasure because they are distracted by TV.
• Kids don't read for pleasure because they are more interested in video games.
• Kids don't read for pleasure because there is too much technology (social media) in their life.
• Kids don't read for pleasure because they no longer can use their imagination to create their own movie in their head.
Perhaps parents need to have their children earn TV time by reading first. Perhaps teachers need to include reading for pleasure as a part of their homework or school expectation. Authors need to compete with the movie industry. Books need to be as cool as the movies. Authors need to advertise their books on that children's TV channel.
Parents become a prime motivator for their children to read for pleasure and become lifelong readers. I would advise parents to be a reading example for their kids. So many parents share that they just don't have time to read for pleasure, or they only read after the children go to bed, or they only read in the bathroom. It is conceivable that a child could go from sun up to sun down and never see the most important adults in their life read a book for pleasure. Yet, parents are constantly telling their children how important it is to read. Perhaps our children perceive a double standard. I would advise that parents make reading a priority in their homes. Sit down and discuss the book that your child is reading. How do they think it will end? What is their favorite part so far? Who is the author?
Once again, there is no easy answer for encouraging our children to read, but the fact remains that we need to get our children reading! Kids will do things if it is popular, cool, or fun. We need to make reading all three of those and the best way to do that is through... technology!
Let them read their books online. Let them read a graphic novel from their tablet or laptop. Let them use Book Wizard (http://www.scholastic.com/bookwizard/) which is sort of a Pandora Music App but for Children and Young Adult Books. Let them go on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/polandbananasBOOKS) and watch book talks from other kids and help them find a good book that they might enjoy reading. Let them discuss what they have read with someone online, either in a book club chatroom( http://www.epals.com/#!/main) or have them write a critique of the book on a blog. All of these possibilities will make reading fun and highly motivating for our children.
There is one thing that must come first before any reluctant reader finds his/her passion for reading. There has to be someone who guides them to discovery. The sheer definition of reluctant tells us that there must be at least one person who helps the child find that first book.... that person must guide them to the pathway that can help them discover a love of reading. It just takes one person. Will you be the one?