I've been an avid reader since I was introduced to books as a preschooler. I was always finding opportunities to read. Even the labels of cereal and tissue boxes provided reading material while eating breakfast. Yet there are many kids who are turned off by reading. What led to their dislike? After reading the linked New York Times article, it seems clear that kids need to be given their choice of what to read. They need to be encouraged to read anything, even if adults consider the material trashy and media-centric.
This article relayed a recent Florida study that offered students their choice of summer reading material. Some of the books were simply about celebrities, while others were kid classics like Junie B. Jones. No matter the selection of books, these kids who read over the summer outperformed their counterparts in standardized tests, even years later! Moreover, offering $50 in free books (of one's choice) for summer reading provided results comparable with summer school attendance.
We need to do more to encourage our kids to read. We need to stop getting hung up on whether they are reading celebrity-studded news or fantasy-based dragon novels. We first need to develop the avid interest in reading, and then guide that interest toward more challenging works. My youngest children love to read, and will pick up books easily. My eldest son has been a reluctant reader, and I struggle to find the genre that interests him. Recently, I think we've clicked on something that works. He seems to prefer nonfiction, military history works. I never would have suggested what I consider such dry reading. It goes to show that we need to offer our students a WIDE variety of literature. I'm hopeful that this will be the light that switches him on to reading. If not, I'll keep on trying other avenues. We need our kids to read!
Here's a link to the New York Times article that got me thinking.
Kids Must Read Anything