I can still see the poster on my own childhood primary school classroom wall:
Kids who read succeeed
Who could possibly disagree?
In my (not so) humble (on this issue) opinion our Australian community has very low expectations of how much a child or teenager should read. The issue really is to do with how much an adult reads. Kids know all about those ‘who talk the talk’ about reading but rarely have a book open. Parent-Teacher evenings where Mum or Dad, usually Mum, rue the fact that their son or daughter, usually son, does not read can have an awkward moment when one enquires into what the parent is currently reading. Is it arrogant to expect people to read? Do we need to make reading more an expectation than merely something some people do as a hobby?
My own daughter, aged 7, read 50 books over the Christmas holidays, including the first 5 Harry Potter novels. I know this reads like a terrible ’paragon of virtue’ statement but it is true. We made no attempt to ‘teach her to read’ but read a minimum of three books to her every night from the time she was in the womb. Reading is a socially constructed pleasure…or not. If Mum and Dad do not read the chances of the child doing so are slim. If fathers do not read, doubly so. Do we need hard data to confirm these assertions?
What is your advice to children and teenagers, parents and teachers about reading?