Nurturing a personal relationship with reading [07-01-2023]
If you are following this blog series, you are likely counted among those who love reading. As such, it may be difficult for you to understand why others don’t. There are numerous factors that may have ignited your initial interest in books and continue to fan the flames even now. For many, the most significant spark takes the form of a positive emotional response, often when a personal connection with reading is forged. The following all have the potential to play an important role.
- Favorite stories read by loved ones over and over
- Loveable characters that are relatable
- A familiar setting or story plot that resonates
- Book recommendations by beloved teachers, parents, friends…
While books are the most common source in fostering reading enjoyment, there are many other forms as well.
Strategies to enhance reading enjoyment at home and in school
My three children were raised in Asia. In that it was advantageous for them to acquire Chinese, they attended local primary schools. Though, I had a personal desire to nurture their independent English reading skills as well. When they attended kindergarten, I developed their phonological and phonemic awareness at home (aged 3-5). Each had a special notebook that they chose from the stationary store. In the evening, I would write a personal message and place the notebooks under their pillows to be received in the morning. Different syllables of complex vocabulary were highlighted to assist them more easily apply their knowledge of phonics in decoding unfamiliar words (a sample entry can be found HERE). They would eagerly wake each morning to savor this personal message of love and beamed with pride while reading it aloud for all to hear at the breakfast table. One wonderful benefit of this morning read aloud session was the collaboration that occurred among the siblings – because each desired to hear the message received by the others, they assisted each other in the decoding process which was a joy to observe!
This experience can be incorporated into classrooms as well. As a primary 1 teacher, I would write a weekly P1 newsletter that combined stories, observations and anecdotes featuring characters named after the students, using the same format. The students would arrive to class excited each Monday and upon receiving the newsletter would scan through the text to see if they or their friends were featured that week. The newsletter itself stimulated discussion, became a comprehension exercise and often introduced themes and tasks that would be addressed that week. You may have noticed that the same format has been applied to the books comprising the Marcus series (HERE).
Another great strategy is to model reading enjoyment. Whether at home or in school, when young readers see adults choosing to sit comfortably and read, for a period of time, rather than turn on the television or immerse in other forms of visual media, this observation leaves an impression. Classroom teachers can designate a period of 10-15 minutes of class time for silent sustained reading (SSR) on a regular basis. During this period, students are free to read materials of interest either brought from home or selected from the library and the teacher reads along with them. While teaching primary 4, I created a ‘reading brick’ template, that students would complete when they had finished reading a book, and over the course of the year an entire wall of my classroom was covered with these bricks that had been accumulated and lovingly designated our ‘Wall of Knowledge’ (access the template HERE).
I am confident many of the readers here have resources and strategies they use in assisting students to establish that positive emotional relationship with reading, which I hope are shared.
Any comments or reflections based on your own strategies for nurturing reading enjoyment are most welcome!
The next update will be published on 1 August 2023!