Helping children choose the right book
Annual research by the National Literacy Trust has consistently found a gulf between girls and boys when it comes to reading for enjoyment; and a recent study by the University of Dundee, into the reading habits of over a million students, has yielded similar results.
The findings of this latest study found that boys of all ages read less thoroughly than girls, skipping parts of books and choosing reading material that is too easy for them.
We want all children to reap the academic and personal benefits of reading, therefore it is important to tackle the factors which may be taking away from their enjoyment, causing them to skip parts or half-heartedly flick through the pages.
A child's attention will wane if they are not interested in the book's subject matter. It is, therefore important you help your child pick a genre/topic which suits their preferences. When reading a book they enjoy, a child will become more invested in the plot and the characters, and will want to read on to see what happens next.
If your child is a huge science buff, a story set in space will not only draw upon their existing expertise, making them feel knowledgeable, but they will relish in learning more about their favourite topic. And if they've enjoyed a particular book, why not look for other books by the same author, or if it is part of a series and suggest they read the next instalments.
Secondly, children should read books suitable to their ability, not their age. A child will quickly become frustrated and disheartened when reading a book which is too difficult for them; likewise, they will soon disengage with a book which is too easy for them.
In order to foster a positive attitude to reading a child should read books they feel comfortable with. You do not want to cap your child's potential by limiting them to books suitable for their age, nor do you want to pressure them into reading material which is beyond their current capacity.
It is important to let your child's ability guide their reading choices, not society's expectations on what they should be reading for their age. Kumon's Recommended Reading List (RRL) is categorised in this very way - by difficulty, rather than age or academic year.
A supplement to the Kumon English Programme, the RRL has 380 books of all genres and styles, intended to help all students, including those studying the maths programme, develop a love of reading. Students are encouraged to choose books which match their reading ability, and work their way through the recommendations as their skills, fluency, and confidence improve.
Lastly, length should also be considered when choosing a book, for even the most avid readers amongst us may struggle to stay on course with a 600-page narrative. Children should select a book they believe they can finish in a good amount of time. It is when a child rushes to finish a book they've been reading for a number of weeks, then they will begin to skip passages and read less thoroughly, perhaps even missing key plot details.
The primary function of books is to entertain and enlighten; and in choosing books that are just-right for the reader, we can encourage them to read more and more.