4 Ways Children Are Put Off Reading
As a primary school teacher, it can be a real struggle to keep children interested in reading. Malorie Blackman, the current children's laureate, promotes 10-minute daily storytelling time in schools. I can say from experience that this time is effective and important in promoting a love of reading in children. Most recently, a group of inquisitive children asking for more details about information on severed heads and barbaric punishments from 'Rotten Romans' by the always brilliant Terry Deary.
There are many other positive suggestions like this being encouraged to schools and parents. However, here are four problems that I feel are being faced when trying to give children a genuine love for reading.
#1 - Those awful posters encouraging children to read.
You remember the ones? The ones that you and your mates would make fun of once before completely ignoring them? The ones that never made you want to pick up a book...ever? The ones that looked like this,
They're just so cheesy. No child over the age of six is ever going to think something like this is 'cool'. Not only that, it sort of feels like a book promoting a celebrity rather than a celebrity promoting a book.
The ones that aren't celebrity endorsed will often look something like this,
From the generic, 'I didn't have much time to do this so I found a picture of a book on ClipArt and put some WordArt writing over it' school of poster design. Just completely non-effective.
#2 - Children's books can still be a bit too 'nice'.
When I was a boy, given the choice between a nice story about a friendly, talking dog or beating up thugs in 'Streets of Rage' on my games console, it was always going to be the thugs. I think we still have this problem today when video games can often have material that is so much more appealing to children than what they find in books.
Luckily, I do feel that there is starting to be more of a shift towards authors writing material for children that is a bit grittier, funnier or gross for children who aren't interested in friendly, talking dogs. Authors such as Morris Gleitzman who have written brilliantly effective children's stories about serious issues.
"Yeah, who needs Xbox?" Said no child ever.
#3 - A lack of variety in what is considered 'proper reading'.
Some of my happiest memories of reading as a child are from The Beano comic, superhero comics, Guinness Book of Records and WWF magazine (now WWE). The Beano had genuinely funny humour, superhero comics had complex storylines with a wide vocabulary of language and The Guinness Book of Records was packed full of knowledge. WWF magazine had The Rock but that's probably not as relevant.
The problem is, I feel many of these would not be considered by adults as quality texts for children. I completely disagree though. If it has good language and is encouraging children to read then it's all good in my books (awful pun).
The Rock, not an obvious choice for one of my early literary influences.
#4 - Children not being read to enough.
Back to my original point really. If children aren't read to enough then I think they're very unlikely to gain a love of reading. I have great memories of my Dad reading me Goosebumps and my sister reading me bedtime stories. Even if she was just making up a story to go with the pictures because she couldn't be bothered to read the whole thing.