January 9, 2019

How children learn to love reading

How do YOU choose something to read?

When you read a newspaper online, what decides whether you click on a story?

Most of us would agree that we read what interests us, and what has relevance to our lives. And anyone who’s ever fought their way through a set of Terms and Conditions would surely agree that when something is too long and boring, or written in dry language full of difficult words, or doesn’t seem likely to ever apply to us, we are more than likely to just tick the box and PRETEND we’ve read it…

…and turn to doing something else as soon as we can.

Children are just like us. If it’s not interesting to them, and if it doesn’t have any relevance to their daily lives, they are unlikely to engage with reading matter NO MATTER HOW EDUCATIONAL YOU THINK IT IS.

That’s why I was thrilled to be sent this picture of a 7-year-old, Maddy, reading my new book, ‘Mean Eric’, in the yard of her family day care centre.

Her playtime. Her choice.

So why did she choose ‘Mean Eric’? It’s not your average children’s book, full of fairies or princesses or cute animals or scary dragons or fantastic adventures.

No, but every child of her age knows what bullying is.

(Sorry. It’s true.)

It’s RELEVANT. And that makes it interesting.

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Here’s what else can happen when you give children access to books that they identify with:

It can trigger their own creativity.

It can trigger unexpected motivation, and new ideas: Maybe I can write a book too!

Maybe I can draw the pictures too!

And suddenly we have literacy experiences happening willingly – as the children’s own idea.

Other children can be drawn into the excitement, the possibilities that have opened up.

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Let it happen in its own time, without criticism, with just a guiding hand to find the pencils and paper or to write the words down for very young children, and they’re flying.

I’ve done this sort of thing with children as young as three and four.

But you HAVE to start with books that the children want to read.

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This is what Maddy and her friends produced, all in a single afternoon.

Pretty fabulous, don’t you think? Well done, Maddy and friends! I hope to see you writing more books!

And to my delight, Maddy then found another MonkeyRead.me book on the shelf – ‘Being Friends with Bodie Finch’ – and settled down with that.

Because every child knows how it feels to have that kid in their class, that kid who doesn’t seem to know the rules of playing nicely together.

What a mystery to solve! Why¬†does Bodie Finch behave like that? It’s interesting!

MonkeyRead.me books has a motto. Did you know? And it captures the essence of why we are here, providing books that are written from the child’s viewpoint, dealing with real social dilemmas.

Books that children want to read.

Monkey see.

Monkey like.

Monkey read.

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