Not everyone is born with a love of the written word, and in an age of iPads, laptops and smart phones, it’s even harder to encourage students to put down their gadgets and get stuck into a book. While reading for school is necessary, reading to maintain a well-rounded life is vital: reading not only helps encourage the imagination to grow, but helps increase vocabulary, as well as teaching students valuable lessons, that may not always be obvious.
However, you can’t force a student to love reading. You need to plant a seed, water it, and let it grow. Each pupil will have something that leaves them lying in bed at night reading in the dark, and it’s your job to find it. You don’t need to worry about books not being academic enough, or not being high-brow, the important thing is, is to light a fire that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Find out what films your students love and what books they enjoyed, and use your research skills to find more. With websites like Good Reads, and recommendations on Twitter, it isn’t hard to discover a trail of books leading from your pupil’s interests. Depending on age groups, start with some of the past few years’ bestsellers: John Green’s ‘The Fault in our Stars’, Suzanna Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ series, David Walliams’ collection of stories, and Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. You could try going back to classics, such as Noel Streatfeild’s ‘Ballet Shoes’, and Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’. All of these books are easy to read, gripping stories, that won’t seem like a chore to start – and that will be a disappointment when they end.
Another route to try is to set vague discussion terms: lead the conversation onto films, and move into the field of film adaptations. Not only is this a great way to incorporate use of subjects like English, History, Media and Art, but also to start moving down a path towards literature.
Find out what your student dislikes about reading. Is the level they are expected to read at? Or the fact they can’t engage and interact with a book? These problems can be solved in your sessions, and overcome over a period of time.
There’s no right or wrong way to help a student fall in love with reading, but it’s one of the most influential and important things you can impart on someone’s life: use your passion, your literary knowledge, and your love of books to help guide more people towards thousands of unexplored worlds between the pages of a book.
Written by JC (Guest Blogger)