Our kids live in a cyber-world of readily available audio visual entertainment which might make the idea of reading a book—even on electronic devices such as a Kindle or Nook—seem archaic in comparison.
In a current environment containing immersive internet games, smart phones with apps and movies that stream to tablets, how can books engage children and keep them excited about reading and writing?
1. Reading is Knowledge: Encourage Kids to Research What Interests Them
Not every child wants to discover “the classics,” and what does classic mean in their world, where what is new gets old the very next day? If children are interested in black hole theories, fantasy worlds or summer travel destinations, Catcher in the Rye might have to wait. Get those kids reading about something they want to discover.
2. Make Reading Interactive
We live in a world of Social Media where anonymous opinion runs rampant. Anyone can comment on Facebook, post Tweets, pin photos or join special interest groups. Let’s make discussion about reading just as relevant.
Most kids are very social with no need to be prompted to participate in group discussion. Why not lead a study group in which kids share what they like to read and why? Why not encourage them to express how what they have been reading pertains to their lives?
3. Inspire Kids to Use Their Imaginations
When kids read about their interests, it sparks creativity. We’ve all seen kids with vivid imaginations who have no outlet for expression. Time and again their creative energy gets diverted into restlessness or squandered on activities such as surfing the internet. These kids are bored.
When kids are allowed to read what interests them and share it socially, it piques their imaginative process. Encourage these kids to write a paragraph about the black hole discovery that intrigues them, or draw a map of the fantasy world they are engrossed in, or write a travelogue of their summer trip to the Grand Canyon.
When our family went to the UK last summer, our 10 year old son was enamored with the different kinds of pub food he sampled. Upon our return to New England, he designed a snack menu for an imaginary tavern, with a description of the pub and dishes such as haggis and kidney pie priced in British currency. His teacher allowed him to present it to the class. What a great use of social interaction, imagination and creative writing!
4. Help Kids Create A World From Which They Can Write
We write from experience, meaning we start with what we know, even in our informal journal entries, blogs, or notes—the medium does not matter. We use the words we grew up with shaped by the environment we live in coupled with what we learn through experience.
In the same way, kids’ writing need not be constrained by labels like fiction, nonfiction, poetry or fantasy. Whether they write plays, reports or personal essays, the goal is to get kids comfortable with written expression. That begins with writing from within.
Choose a familiar topic for kids to write about and have them read paragraphs aloud: for example how they spend weekends. It may be that a child works at a family business, or visits relatives, or plays sports.
Then have them write a similar paragraph that uses imagination. Maybe the child that works at her parent’s dry-cleaners tries on a prom dress and turns into another person. Maybe the boy who gets dropped off at his aunt’s house discovers a long lost cousin with tales from another country. Maybe the kid playing sports gets discovered by a scout who wants him to play professionally.
5. Maintain Kids’ Interest
Our attention spans have dwindled to nanoseconds. Gone are lengthy TV specials, one minute commercials or waiting in line. We order food on our phones, are barely expected to engage in 30 second ads about online insurance or hot and ready pizza and if a television series is too much to sustain, we only have to watch the mid-season finale to get a sense of closure.
Writing is organic. To keep kids reading and writing, keep evolving. Reading a funny incident, might prompt kids to write a dialogue about what happened and turn the lines into a short play. Kids exploring fantasy or science fiction might want to create their own worlds complete with characters, who must live by certain rules to survive.
Kids interested in journaling can keep a diary to learn how daily entries can shape what we glean from others. From there it’s a short segue to classics, like The Diary of Anne Frank.
Thank you Holly for posting our original article at: http://ilikeitfrantic.net/2015/02/how-to-get-kids-interested-in-reading-and-writing/