Traditional books may have enthralled previous generations, but as the media has become ever more dominating in our lives and attention spans have increasingly reached for instant gratification, it has become challenging for black and white text to compete. That’s not to say all is lost – in fact, the fact that the media is so diverse and filled with variation is an advantage.
1. Going Beyond Books: Graphic Novels
Graphic novels are the perfect medium, they’re bright, eye-catching, artistic, and they’re filled with text. To sum it up, they’re appealing to the disengaged readers, those who will potentially battle later in life due to poor reading and writing skills which were not exercised through reading. In order to follow the story, the young reader will have to devour the writing. How does it compare to reading traditional books? A study done in 2009 focused on struggling male readers.
The teenagers were given self-governance and allowed to select the graphic novels of their choosing. By the end of the study, the participants not only showed an enormous appreciation for reading, but their comprehension skills increased, too.
The exercise also yielded the following results: “The average increase in the Value of Reading raw scores was 4.25 for the four participants, an average increase of 10.25 per cent. Even with the small sample size, the increase was significant, as shown by a paired t-test (t=6.76, df=3, p=.003)”.
2. Storytime in the Classroom and at Bedtime
Stories at bedtime have been a favoured activity with children for generations. To lie with a parent and have a mutual time together which is quiet and uninterrupted gives the child’s naturally flourishing imagination the opportunity to fly free and travel beyond the confines of the visual. It also exercises the components that will later help to build reading skills: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension.
Understanding the power of associations will also shed light on the impact bedtime stories have on children’s willingness to engage in written materials later on. Building a positive association with reading will set the tone, for life.
Teachers know as well as anyone that bedtime stories can not be forced if parents fail to see the value, as much as well-meaning teachers may encourage it. Instead, teachers may take 15 – 20 minutes at the end of each day to read a story to the class and nurture that same quiet time to develop a love for words and reading.
3. Encourage Creative Expression with Dress-up Days
Another fun way for schools to encourage reading among learners is to take the ‘book report’ concept and replace it. Dress up days are always welcomed by learners, but, they must dress as their favourite character from a book they have recently read.
Instead of giving a report on the book, allow each student to stand in front of the class and explain his favourite character:
● In what way does he/she relate to the character?
● What does the character do in the story?
● Do they play a pivotal role or are they a background character?
This exercise gives students the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the culture of reading and interpret it. Make a wealth of books available by allowing parents and family of each learner to pledge what they are willing to pay per page and turn the event into a Readathon. This, in turn, funds new books for the classroom which can give students more options to choose from, like graphic novels. The worldwide Waldorf School Federation makes use of the Readathon activity in their curriculum, which aims to include all 5 senses in every lesson and learning opportunity.