Reading for Pleasure
What do you and your kids do for fun? Texting? TV? Computer games? Facebook? Going to the movies and out to dinner? Bike riding? Soccer?
All of these are great activities! Not including school assignments and various e-messages from friends, how much time do you spend per day reading, just for fun?
Reading a book, usually fiction, has been my favorite leisure activity ever since I learned to read. I love to get in the lives of other characters, and see how they tick. I love to vicariously live their adventures. While I also enjoy TV shows and movies, reading lets you imagine how everything is, and the stories last much longer. After lugging a large book to Boston, I am finally planning to get a convenient e-reader.
The great thing about reading books is that it is not only fun but has the added benefits of increasing vocabulary, spelling, writing, and of course improving reading skills. I would even argue that reading for pleasure does all of these things even better than assigned reading because you actually want to be there. Here are the overall benefits in a nutshell:
1. Reading is relaxing and fun. You have to pick out your own material, though. Read what you love!
2. Readers effortlessly improve their comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and writing. This way, you can practice your whole life for the SAT and ACT verbal and writing sections. As an added bonus, it is super easy to look up vocabulary words on e-readers, if you happen to own one.
3. Reading stimulates the imagination.
4. Reading expands the mind by exposing you to different cultures, different walks of life, different personality types, and useful information. Find history books dry? Try historical fiction!
5. Reading for pleasure improves standardized test scores.
6. Practice is the only way to become an excellent reader.
7. Once you are an excellent reader, you can advance to more difficult material, understand everything you are learning at school, and even develop a desire to read and learn in greater depth.
How to promote reading for pleasure
- Make reading a priority for all family members. Do not over-schedule other activities; limit TV and computer time. Consider having a family reading time each day.
- Do not force young children to read before they are ready.
- Read aloud to your children, even after they learn to read.
- Encourage fun reading, such as magazines, comics, and series books.
- Read the books your children are reading, and discuss them together.
- Help your child find what interests him and choose reading material accordingly.
- Allow your child to read easy material, as it will be more pleasurable for him.
- Make reading relevant. Follow directions for a recipe or model building.
- Take regular trips to the library and book store.
- Let children read in bed after “lights out.”
- Listen to recorded books on car trips.
This summer, the best thing you can do to prepare for school next year is read for pleasure all summer long. If your children are young, you can join the library summer reading program and get coupons as a reward.
Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success, Inc.