Why Won’t Kids Read?

Amazon.com: Mabinogion (Everyman's Library) (9780460872973): Jones, Gwyn,  Jones, Thomas: Books

This is a huge topic, but I’m going to confine myself to a single anecdote.

One day, substitute teaching for a third-grade class, I found the regular teacher had left me a bit short of lesson plans. I would have to fill the time somehow. So I told the class, “If you can pay attention, I’ll tell you some stories you haven’t heard before–stories of knights, and King Arthur, and monsters, and other worlds–everything that once made life so interesting. And I think you’ll like them.”

I told them stories from The Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh legends compiled some 800 years ago, although the stories themselves are surely older than that. All right, I edited out the saucier parts. But I kept the adventure, the humor, and the marvels–and next thing we knew, the day was all but done. The children loved those stories!

The point is, the most powerful motivation for reading is a lively desire to find out something. To know the story. To learn how to do something. For amusement, escape, comfort, enlightenment. It’s all written down–in books. Stuff you never dreamed existed. Things to set your imagination on fire. Any kind of story that you want to hear, any kind of information that you need to acquire. It’s all in books.

If you like reading, you’ll read. And the more you read, the easier it is.

They throw a lot of boring books at you in school; I’ve been there, I know. I plodded through those, but on my own time, sought out the books I really wanted to read, and read them.

Too many children have never experienced the pleasure, the fun of reading. And I think that’s what they have to get hooked on.

That’s where to begin. Read aloud to little kids, and they’ll eventually want to read themselves. But you do have to begin at home, well before they go to school.

Don’t leave them at the mercy of the social media.

3 comments on “Why Won’t Kids Read?

    1. I put in a lot of time teaching adults how to read better. It just takes practice. But you’d be amazed by how many people won’t put in 10 minutes a day, and then complain that they’re not learning.

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