How to foster a culture of reading in your classroom
Awaken children’s lifelong sense of adventure through books
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
78% of Grade 4 students in South Africa cannot read for meaning. Shocking, right? In fact, South Africa was ranked last (out of 50 countries) in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Foundation Phase teachers have a pivotal role to play in improving these numbers and developing a new generation of readers.
Why reading matters
Reading is the foundation of learning and the rewards are huge. Benefits for children include: Building vocabulary, strengthening communication skills, sharpening the brain, cultivating imagination and boosting empathy. Reading books on a variety of subjects also broadens children’s understanding of the world around them.
There is a growing collection of children’s books published in all 11 official languages, which is very exciting as it provides young children with enjoyable early reading experiences in their home language/s.
In the Foundation Phase children are learning to read – thereafter they start reading to learn. So, how do we cultivate a real love of reading amongst our children?
Reading role models at home
Parents play an important role in developing a child’s love – or utter dislike – of reading. Reading should not be seen as a punishment or a chore, but a shared adventure. Encourage parents to not only read with their children on a daily basis, but get into the habit of reading themselves as well. We could all do with putting down our screens more often and picking up a book instead!
10 ways to foster a culture of reading in your classroom:
- Create an inviting reading corner decorated in a theme or with story characters and fill it with brightly-coloured books and comfortable cushions.
- Introduce a reading mascot, so this fluffy little friend becomes part of the experience – feel free to give him or her a personality and special voice too!
- Establish good habits, by reading regularly (in groups, alone, in silence, out loud) and when reading to your class, don’t forget the character voices and dramatic flair!
- Share the joy of reading, by talking about your own reading habits and favourite books.
- Celebrate reading-related days like World Literacy Day (8 September 2018) and World Book Day (23 April 2019) with a readathon or book character dress-up!
- Give audio books a try, to change up the routine once in a while.
- Work on comprehension, by asking questions about the story you’ve just read.
- Build on story themes, ideas and messages in other aspects of your teaching, for example: Fantasy play, visual and creative arts.
- Choose books as prizes at the end of the year.
- Visit a local library or bookshop – bookshelves packed with adventure are sure to inspire young readers. Importantly, borrowing books from the library also gives children access to books at home.
In the words of Louis L’Amour, always remember:
“A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever.”
Truly Toys stock a range of books, audio books and other literacy-related resources. To find out more about our educational toys for all ages, please visit our website or contact us for a quote: 011 618 1337 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Progress In International Reading Literacy Study 2016 South African Children’s Reading Literacy Achievement – University of Pretoria, Faculty of Education, Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (https://www.up.ac.za/media/shared/164/ZP_Files/pirls-literacy-2016_grade-4_15-dec-2017_low-quality.zp137684.pdf)
- How to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Your Students – InformED (https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-to-cultivate-a-love-of-reading-in-your-students/)
- Ten Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Students – Edutopia (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/cultivating-love-reading-students-elena-aguilar)
- How to Instill the Love of Reading – In Your Child, or Yourself – Zen habits (https://zenhabits.net/how-to-instill-the-love-of-reading-in-your-child-or-yourself/)