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The Most Important Lesson We Can Teach Our Children About Reading

By Yolanda Spivey

Literacy experts, educators and politicians are all in agreement when it comes to reading.  They feel that it is a crucial component to the success of a child not only in school, but in their future careers.  And for a child to compete on a global level in his or her future, reading comprehension is vital.

But some students find reading as a task or chore, especially in our current high-tech environment. Video images that are more readily and deemed more exciting in the eyes of adolescents, replaces the joy of getting lost in a book.

Research shows that “pleasure” reading is quite essential to adolescent readers.  A study of 14 eighth graders who read books that were enjoyable to them such as romance novels, vampire and horror stories, etc… showed that the young participants were quite articulate about what they have read.

When an adolescent read a book that is pleasurable, it opens up their imagination and allows them to fully engage into the story’s world.  The characters in some of these books are brought to life in the readers psyche.  The readers engage with the characters by becoming friends, and sometimes enemies with the characters.

Reading also allows and adolescent to become the kind of people they are reading about. The reader is able to learn a great amount about themselves as they imagine being in different situations that are presented to the characters they are reading. The reader often develop alternate scenarios in their heads as to what they think they should do and would do if they were in the same situation as the character.  It allows the young reader to learn about what they could be.

Another thing readers experience when reading for pleasure is intellectual and social stimulation. For instance, a reader becomes a detective when they have to process information, analyze what’s happening as the story unfolds, and put it all together.  Socially it allows readers to connect with others giving them a sense of belonging by talking to their friends about the different characters or situations that are occurring in the book.

Researchers are developing ways for teachers to adapt pleasure reading into their curriculums. They are realizing that reading for pleasure has a significant impact on young people’s  educational attainment and social mobility because it increases their cognitive skills over time.

They also see the importance of allowing students the choice to choose their own reading materials.  Students are well aware of what type of text they will find enjoyable. Doing so will keep them interested in reading for the rest of their lives.


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