Fostering a Love of Reading and Writing in Children
Being the youngest of 4 sisters and much younger than my siblings, I eased my loneliness by escaping into books and writing stories and poems. I am so grateful for my literacy skills; I truly believe that who I am today and what I do for a living is a direct result of my love of reading and writing. But what made me an avid reader and writer? How can we make reading and writing appeal to today’s youth as much as it did to me?
To answer these questions, I thought about the influences that sparked a love of language in my own life and looked for answers from those working with children today. I found some common threads that aligned with my own experiences.
In Marie Morelli’s interview with children’s book author Bruce Coville, Coville outlined some ways to encourage kids to love reading and writing:
1. Read to your child.
My parents read to me every night when I was a small child. It helped that I inherited a trove of books from my older sisters, so there was always a different book to end my day and ease me into bed.
2. Make writing pleasurable.
Aside from my parents, one of my biggest influences was my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Herm. She was a strong proponent of language skills and encouraged all of her students to read and write at every opportunity. Each of us submitted stories, poems, and drawings in a journal every week. I loved writing and drawing in my journal because I was free to write whatever I wanted, so it was fun.
3. Encourage kids to read what they like.
When I grew older and could read on my own, I ordered the books that I wanted from the Scholastic book club through my school. I always relished taking the flyer home to pick out the books I wanted and lugging home a new pile of books to devour.
4. Emphasize why writing matters.
My parents always wanted me to go to college, so they encouraged me to hone my writing skills to ensure that I would have the skills to get there.
You may notice another common thread here—access to books. What about children who don’t have access to books? How can we help them? In 2003, Andrew G Kay founded the World Literacy Foundation (WLF) to address the lack of books and resources for impoverished children around the world. By supporting the WLF, you can help drive the effort to combat illiteracy.
Now, we’d love to hear from you! Do you have other ideas for ways that parents, teachers, and schools can help foster literacy around the world?