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This is a huge question. I think it has to be a multi-pronged strategy. First, we have to find texts that children will apppreciate and find relevant. Then, we have to make written material more accessible to them in ways they are accustomed to consuming it, and obviously technology will play a big role in this. Finally, we have to focus on the mechanics of reading. Students get frustrated when they struggle to comprehend passages, and this can lead to lo self-esteem that hurts them as readers in the long run. I agree that it is essential, though.
The greatest challenge, in my opinion, is going to lie in convincing children that reading is an appealing way to spend time when there are so many other activities that appear more "exciting" because they include bells and whistles and special effects. The draw of video games and similar options is huge.
As the previous post suggests, we need to find ways of presenting reading as an activity that is appreciated, relevant and accessible. Electronic presentation of novels, supplemented with sound and illustration, may have to be part of the appeal; this goes against allowing the reader's imagination to take flight and fill in all the scenery and sound and action, but may be necessary to initially attract kids back to the act of reading. Once they're hooked, maybe they'll be willing to blend their imaginations into the process instead of allowing technology to supply all the extra stimulation.
Changing students into lifelong readers requires the cooperation of many people. Teachers cannot do it on their own. They need parents, the community and society to support the initiative. Kids who see their parents read and are read to will more likely become avid readers. The excitement over books in a community and society make reading desirable. Whether you are fans of the books or not you have to commend the effect that the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter series have had on young readers. Before Harry, when was the last time you had kids camping out for a new book? :)
Struggling readers need to be encouraged by having available to the books that are age and reading level appropriate (this is also an issue with very young readers who are quite advanced)
One of the best ways to encourage reading is to read with children. Read aloud, do alternating reading and talk about the book! Make books dinner table conversation and make books gifts.
I really don't think teachers have much to do with it at all. It has to be the parents. By the time they get to school, kids' attitudes towards reading are most likely already formed. So we need to have parents reading to their little children. We need also to have the kids seeing their parents reading so they will know that reading is what regular people do. This will help to revive reading.
Children read when they are given opportunities to read. I once had a principal ask me when I was teaching elementary school how we could increase participation in the school's independent reading program. My response? Give them books! Giving children phonics readers with dry, nonsensical plots and silly characters is not going to give them a love for reading. Children need to be surrounded by books, actual books. They need to have, in their classrooms and homes, high quality literature of a variety of genres and plots.
I found the following article, geared at parents, interesting.
The article focuses on encouraging reluctant readers from a parent’s perspective. Suggestions including finding books on topics your child likes to read, modeling reading, and sharing reading aloud. Reading is first and foremost a social activity. Children can read together and talk together about books, and their understanding and interest will both increase.
As the following article points out, the key to getting students to read is giving them something good to read!
"20 Ways for Parents to Encourage Reading." Education.com. Web. 07 May 2012. <http://www.education.com/reference/article/Re
We will have to tailor our attempts to read to what the students want to do. They aren't going to sit down and read "books" like we old-timers did. They will read what interests them in a format that interests them. School has fallen so far behind technologically that students don't see the relevance.
I think we have to appeal to today's students. I didn't enjoy reading the classic when I was a student. Now I do, but my drive was to read books I found more interesting. Today's students are no different. We have to show them not only the curriculum but what an interesting reading in general can be. The new technologies like tablets and e-readers are attempting to reach a new generation of young readers. We need to take advantage of this rather than fight it. Let's face it, today's youth are far more likely to read a book on their phone or tablet than an actual printed paper book.
I don't like to say that we need to allow students to read only what they find interesting because I think there is still merit in books they might not like. However, we have to show students that there is such a thing as reading for pleasure as well as reading for academic purposes.
I currently teach middle school and have had success with appealing to the non-reading students' interests with high-level interest books. I have a couple of titles that I have had success with, because the books are extremely accessible in terms of reading ability, are on high-interest topics that the students enjoy, have the 'cool' factor that the students' crave in reading material. Here are some titles that have won over die-hard 'un-readers:' Tears of a Tiger (any of Sharon Draper's young adult novels have huge appeal), Heaven is For Real, Hunger Games series, Percy Jackson series, Beautiful Creatures series, Uglies, Gone series, Maze Runner series.
I agree that in some capacity, everything mentioned here certainly helps.
But to be honest, I have personally found success in all of my high school classrooms at encouraging a reading habit by providing exactly two things: (1) books the students are interested in, and (2) time to read.
That's it. The magic formula.
Technology had absolutely no part, though I don't discredit that there are a lot of great websites available to help students find their reading likes.
Parental involvement (at the HS level) had very little part, though, I admit most students who do read for pleasure habitually, also have parents who read for pleasure.
I think at our core, humans are naturally inclined toward stretching our imaginations, increasing knowledge, and finding pleasure in reading. This generation of learners has simply had such a gift replaced by TV, iPods, cell phones, parenting techniques which encourage over-stimulation, and general busy-ness.
I didn't have much time for pleasure reading in HS. Between homework, extra-curriculars, family, and sleep, reading was the first thing to go. But if there had been a 45 minute slot during school once a week, I would have relished filling it with pleasure reading. If we provide the time when there is no time, and convince students that good books do exist, I really think most will come back to reading at a point in their lives when their schedules allow for it.
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