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Readers Are Leaders: How to Instill a Love for Reading in Children?

Readers Are Leaders: How to Instill a Love for Reading in Children? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Children usually prioritize their joy and prefer rewarding activities. They are more interested in reading when it is rewarding and beneficial to them. Interestingly, children learning a second language find it easier to learn reading compared to those who are learning to read for the first time. This is because young second language (L2) learners have already experienced that reading can be interesting and entertaining. By making reading in a second language interesting, students are likely to be motivated.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.

Text Difficulty and Vocabulary Support

One important aspect of motivation is ensuring that the text is not too difficult. Too many complex words can hinder understanding and enjoyment. Teachers should ensure that the chosen texts align with the student's language level. If the text is beyond their level, vocabulary lists can be provided in advance to help with the comprehension of complex words. Not all difficult words need to be translated or explained, but it's important to provide enough support for students to follow and understand the main point or plot.

Setting Achievable Reading Goals

Setting achievable reading goals is important not only in terms of text difficulty but also in terms of length. Many children enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a book, and they eagerly anticipate reaching the end of a plot. Teachers should consider the length of the texts or books assigned to maintain students' motivation and engagement.

Tailoring Reading Material to Children's Interests

It's essential to recognize that what makes reading interesting can vary depending on the age of the students. Teenagers are more likely to be interested in topics relevant to their own interests, current society, or even fun historical facts. On the other hand, children usually gravitate towards entertaining genres such as fantasy or adventure. A helpful tip is to offer books based on their favorite movies, as this can pique their interest and provide a familiar context for reading. While some books or texts may not personally interest an adult teacher, it is important to familiarize oneself with the material that our students are reading. By doing so, we can establish a shared context and effectively cultivate their interest in the material.

Reading and Writing as Positive Activities

Neither reading nor writing should ever be used as disciplinary tools. Associating reading with punishment creates negative connotations about the activity, which can hinder a child's enthusiasm for reading. Instead, we should foster a positive environment where reading and writing are seen as enjoyable and valuable activities.

Empowering Children's Choice in Reading

Whenever possible, it is beneficial to allow children to choose the books they read. Making a variety of books available in the classroom and providing book lists can help ignite their interest in reading and reduce unnecessary pressure. Unlike assigned texts, reducing pressure is particularly important when it comes to reading books. Books require focus and concentration, which some children may struggle with. By offering a choice among interesting books, we can alleviate this pressure and give young students the freedom to explore their own preferences in genres and themes.

Engaging Activities to Enhance Reading Experience

Another important teaching skill to maintain students' interest in reading is the ability to extract interesting elements from a text and draw the students' attention to them. For very young children, choosing books with illustrations and reading together can have a positive effect. Young children often have vivid imaginations, and this can be encouraged by allowing them to illustrate what they have read through drawing or playacting. Depending on the age group, various activities can be incorporated, such as writing essays about their favorite characters, crafting alternative endings to stories, role-playing characters, or engaging in debates.

By employing these strategies, teachers can effectively instill a love for reading in children, nurturing their curiosity and helping them become lifelong readers and leaders.

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