How to keep the magic of reading alive in children?

We read to learn and we read to enjoy. With books we can laugh and cry, travel to new places and live exciting adventures. How to make students feel the same? What didactic strategy to follow and achieve it? To answer these questions, we present some educational considerations that make reading an active process of […]

We read to learn and we read to enjoy. With books we can laugh and cry, travel to new places and live exciting adventures. How to make students feel the same? What didactic strategy to follow and achieve it? To answer these questions, we present some educational considerations that make reading an active process of that highlights the enjoyment and appreciation of books, and educates the imagination of children.

Often, students assume a book is based on the pleasure and entertainment provided by the plot and illustrations. Accepting or rejecting responses usually focuses on the emotions, sensations, and images they experience while reading the story. These responses, according to Cullinan (1987), are developed from the home through strategies that must assume and resize the school in order to achieve positive behaviour towards reading.

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The review of the works of professionals such as Buss, Karnowski, Cullinan, Moss, Fenster, Roser and Frith among others, allow us to summarise the characteristics of the school environments that, according to these researchers, promote favorable responses from students to literature. Some common responses among the authors are:

Teachers and parents’ enthusiasm is always contagious: Teachers who talk about their preferences or favourite books often meet students who are eager to read the same books. Clear enthusiasm helps build an environment where students understand that attention to books is legitimate and desirable.

Environment rich in select books: a classroom where students are involved with literature should have a library with enough space for children to enjoy their favourite books. The source of these materials may be the teacher, the school library, the traveling box of the public library, or the houses; but there should always be on the shelves the favourite books of the kids and other new and interesting titles.

At school the selection of materials must be careful: according to the age and interests of the students, and available in several copies for small groups to read and then talk about what was read. Hence, there must be books that have an immediate attraction, that expand the imagination and skills, stories with a certain depth that challenge to read them several times and reflect, variety of genres, materials linked to the Classroom Projects.

Easy access to books: the books that attract the immediate attention of the students are those of easy access and with an attractive exhibition. Students are prone to say more about what they read when they can hold the book in their hands. Having a wide range of reading materials in the classroom (i.e. newspapers, stories, encyclopedias, manuals, magazines, catalogues, poems, etc.) encourages children to improve the uses of language, their functions and characteristics.

Time to look, choose and read: the striking organisation of books will be of little value unless children have ample opportunities to use them. Students need time to browse and decide, and time to read their selection; as well as time to select a book once the task has been completed. Learning to read can be compared to learning to play the piano: the more you practise, the more skilful you will be. In most of the classrooms that serve as an example to this characterisation, daily periods of sustained silent reading are established during which children enjoy books selected by them.

Work valued, exposed and shared: murals, billboards and dioramas product of the students, reflect the level of acceptance and importance that literature has in the classroom; In addition to presenting the teachers’ effort in helping students make connections and comparisons when viewing books in broader perspectives.

Assessment based on experience: students do not become readers overnight. In some groups, returning to a particular book through different activities (e.g. writing, dramatization, reading, discussion) is a pattern that allows reflection and offers an opportunity to learn to want books that would otherwise go unnoticed. The maximum benefit that accumulated experience allows comes with the years, as children and young people build a frame of reference about literature and gain confidence as readers.

In relation to the dynamics at school, a subject of study has been the interaction between pairs when working in small groups in order to highlight the value of the contributions made between the children themselves. Some authors warn: Although the situation of exchange occurs spontaneously among children, it is not usually taken advantage of by the school, and it is even repressed, for fear that exchanges of information are rather exchanges of errors that hinder teaching and alter discipline.

The children work individually, in pairs, trios, quartets and groups. Each of these modalities needs the guidance and guidance of the teacher, so it is convenient to alter them according to the purpose of the activity. So, groups of children do not always constitute spontaneously but the teacher organises them according to the cognitive possibilities, so that the exchange is fruitful and there are not some children relegated to an activity because they know less.

On the contrary, an inadequate approach to books reduces reading to the mechanical literacy that generates in children “hatred towards reading”. But there are studies and research that show that what children say they hate is not the reading itself, much less the stories but the school practice of it that emphasises the decoding, fragmentation and mechanization of language; as well as the reader / text and reading / comprehension division. Learning to read in the alphabetic sense is an arid, slow and difficult task that involves dealing with all the arbitrariness and conventions of written language. In this way, reading can become an activity devoid of meaning.

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