13 November 2011

Reading habits in children

However fluent we may be in English, some times it so happens that we don't get the right word when we communicate to others. Many of us encounter this problem when we are out of touch with the language. This difficulty is more pronounced if we don't read regularly. 

If you talk to youngsters of today, you can easily find that they are relatively far more precise in what they want to say or write; but the problems is that they find it difficult to use appropriate words.  As teachers and parents would know, this problem is due to lack of reading among our children.

When we were young, we used to read good books, magazines and columns meant for children in  magazines in different languages, regularly. I remember reading `Young Folks' League' by Aunty Wendy in The Illustrated Weekly of India and childrens' magazines such as Kannan (in Tamil) and Chandamama regularly. We used to eagerly wait for the newspaper wender to  drop these magazines at our doorstep. Besides these, my father used to bring many childrens' books for us to read and my mother used to read and explain stories from our English textbooks in an interesting manner. I vividly remember my mother explaining `The ugly duckling', a popular Danish fairytale which was included in our English textbook.

Unlike today, almost all contents in our English textbooks were value oriented.  Our textbooks contained goodies from different countries such as Denmark in the above example. Of course, there were a lot of rich culturally rich value based material such as Raamaayanam,Tirukkural etc. from our own country.   Besides, we used to spend a lot of time in well-stocked libraries under the supervision of dedicated librarians at school.

Years later, I tried to make school libraries and computer labs accessible for students duing tea breaks and lunch time when I worked as school principal, by expecting teachers to sit there and monitor what children did, so that children wouldn't misuse the opportunity. However, some of my colleagues didn't like the idea because they didn't want to sacrifice their free time; thus the idea never took shape).

I am glad that a few NGOs are trying to revive the trend in schools according to an article which I read this morning.

I think that it is a moral obligation for schools to develop reading habits in children. No formal classroom lesson can be as effective as a good story for our children to enjoy and follow values in their own lives. 


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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.