We put a lot of emphasis on reading today, with our summer book clubs, our "Read 50 Books and Win a Prize" clubs, and our general encouragement of literacy.
A child with a book in hand, oblivious to everything except the world that exists inside his book, is something many of us can appreciate.
Yet, in spite of this our literacy rates are decreasing and most children do not read for pleasure. Reading is something children have learned to equate with "boring" school work.
Why do we place so much value on reading as a culture but fail to raise a country of readers?
Mark Twain's quote is very telling but not quite accurate. There is a difference in one who can read but doesn't. He has a choice.
Why are children choosing not to read?
Allow me to propose four possible reasons:
The children are not raised in environments where the people who influence them are reading such as parents and older siblings. If you have a home of non-reading TV viewers, your children won't think too often about picking up a book.
Children are exposed to multimedia far too soon, and they develop a screen habit long before they develop a good reading habit. Screens have a magnetic pull on our children's time and attention much as they do on our own. It's difficult for us to pull away, and it's impossible for your child.
When children are taught to read too early, as they are in most schools today, it can become frustrating and, in some cases, even a humiliating experience for them. Before they have a chance to learn to love reading, they learn to hate it.
Children who grow up reading silly literature like the Andy Griffith series will never learn to read a difficult book. They won't develop the familiarity with the syntax, nor will they have the vocabulary required to read intelligent writing. Eventually they tire of the silly stuff and that’s that.
How then can the great minds of our past entice them into the world of thoughts, ideas, and meaning?
The great minds can neither entice or influence them. As children come into adulthood, they’re cut off from a rich cultural heritage and left with something silly and trivial in its place. Not a life very well spent – Thoreau would be disappointed.
Teaching a child to read then should be treated with the utmost care and understanding. It is both a science and an art. It's not difficult to learn how to teach a child to read–in fact, it’s very easy–and mothers would do well to become familiar with the simple steps to literacy.
Teach your children to read and ensure a pleasant, rewarding experience for them; place value upon reading for its own sake, and they should follow suit.
The Smart Homeschooler Academy offers its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home. Join the waiting list for the next course launch in late fall, 2019.
Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.