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Celebrate reading freedom: Let your children choose their own books

Guest post from Ryan Spencer

Celebrate reading freedom: Let your children choose their own books

 
If you are looking to help your child to develop as a reader, the simplest thing that you can do to help facilitate this is to celebrate the freedom to read whatever we like! In order to help our children to practice valuable reading skills, we need to give them many opportunities to read, both by themselves and with others. When we think of reading practice for our children, we are often misled into thinking that we need to focus on one type of book, such as picture books or novels in order to practice specific, reading related skills. However, this narrowly focused approach to reading instruction can often have undesirable benefits, such as turning kids off reading altogether.
 
We want to encourage our children to come back and read day after day, if they have something that they are interested in reading, it makes sense that this will assist them to continue on their own reading journey. When we restrict choice, particularly to contrived boring texts, children frequently see this as an indicator of their reading ability and therefore only rise to meet that low expectation. In my experience working with struggling and reluctant readers, I heard all too frequently ‘that book is too hard for me’ when offering suggestions of what to read. If we only ever provide ‘easy’ books for our children to read, how can we expect them to have the confidence to challenge themselves to read the book they are really interested in?
 
As adults, we read what we like and enjoy. We don’t feel pressured to finish a book if it doesn't interest us, as my bookshelf with half read books will attest! It is vital that we strive to provide the same environment for our children, where there are no penalties for unread or unfinished books. If we don’t like a particular book, it’s important that we encourage children to go back and choose something else.
 
Once we take the restrictions away from what children read, their self-efficacy towards reading increases, therefore leading to an increase in their reading ability. At times children may choose to read a text that is beyond their independent reading ability, meaning they will need help to access some of the text. In this case, don’t make your child’s choice wrong, but suggest that they read with you. You might like to read a chapter together taking a sentence or a paragraph at a time, depending on the level of support that they may require.
 
By encouraging our children to be adventurous, creative and interested readers, we are establishing reading habits that will stay with them for a lifetime.
 
Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Spokesperson; Clinical Teaching Specialist; Lecturer in Literacy Education at the University of Canberra

Posted by Global Administrator on 24/07/2015