I keep banging on about how much I want my child to enjoy reading, but ultimately I am not really sure how much of an impact I can have on another person’s likes and loves, but that does not stop me from having a ‘strategy of encouragement’.
Thinking back I have very strong, and very vivid, memories of enjoying books as a child. Memories include taking books on holiday with me, and reading them at night, even after all the excitement of the day, days that would usually have included a multitude of activities, making new friends and, at times, perhaps, the odd bit of mischief.
But even after all those highs, I would enjoy coming back to my night time reading, and look forward to the visions that my mind would create based on what I was reading.
It was also at this time that I first discovered that reading can be so much more fun than television, or film. I had a book based on the children’s cartoon series M.A.S.K. The images I came up with while reading it, in my own grey matter, were always better than the actual episodes I numbed myself with on television.
However, somewhere along the way, I lost my love of reading, and looking back I think I can start to perhaps pinpoint where, and why.
I now believe it was during high school, which, twenty years ago (wow) was when school felt like it was getting serious.
A proper timetable, homework, a diary to record homework, targets, tests and reports.
All these things turned me off education, and while I did not struggle at school, I did not thrive within its environment, and my love of reading was lost to the labour of reading what I was told to, and to; READ IT BETTER.
It was not until I left school, again on holiday - one very different to the ones we used to enjoy as a family - that a friend handed me a book they had just finished; Popcorn by Ben Elton. And after reading it, in what seemed like hours, my love for books was reignited.
My hand luggage on any holiday after that would always be dominated by books, at an almost one-per-day-of-vacation ratio. And I would always have a book on-the-go at home, without finding the time to read them at such at perhaps such a ferocious pace.
Now with my son starting school this September, I can, sadly, see him going through a similar process, it is already happening in his first formal year of schooling.
My son loves books, or being read to certainly, he gets very excited when I increase the number I am going to read to him based on his positive behaviour, and that fills me with joy.
What fills me with dread is when he says things like; ‘I MUST read this tonight, as I HAVE to get to the end of this level, to get onto the next’.
Laboured, rushed reading, ignoring his learning ability, and certainly his joy of learning and words.
What is more depressing is that this is seemingly a global issue, with parents feeling the world over, that children are under increasing pressure from a ridiculously young age, to achieve certain targets, with little regard to the impact this is having on the individual.
The Book Chook gave, what I believe, to be an excellent response to a letter she received from a worried parent. A parent concerned that their child is not at the right level of reading.
I appreciate there has to be a balance, but, in my opinion, a love of reading conquers being on red, green level or having a ‘reading age’ surpassing the years since your birth.
But, what do you think, and have you experienced similar?