Is Reading, An Essential Skill?


Between the ages of four and nine, your child will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognize 3,000 words with just a glance, and develop a comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute. He must learn to combine words on the page with a half-dozen squiggles called punctuation into something – a voice or image in his mind that gives back meaning. (Paul Kropp, 1996)

That is a lot to grasp even if you have 5 years. But children manage to achieve it with the right guidance and motivation. However some children find it extremely difficult to master all of it and even begin to resent reading. Reading becomes a chore.

Perhaps if we looked at things differently, a solution might emerge. If we stop seeing reading as an essential skill and look at it more as a means to enjoy a story, an experience, an adventure even, our efforts might be more fruitful. It would take the pressure of reading as you don’t pick up a book in order to learn “how to read” but to enjoy, see what an appealing character is up to and what is likely to happen next. Even better if this is a bonding activity of sorts and you enjoy the same book over and over again.

The magic of reading a book over and over again

Several years ago, my mother and I conducted a public speaking class for a group of children in the age group 8-10. One of the students’ little brother tagged along simply because he was curious what his older brother was up to. He insisted on participating in a reading exercise and came along with his chosen book. He was all of four back then. He read with such fluency that we were amazed. We spoke to the mother and she was puzzled. She said, “But he does not know how to read yet. He has just started learning phonetic sounds.” When we showed her the book he had brought along, she smiled. She said, vividly recollecting a favourite memory of hers, “Ah this book. We have read this book together many times as a bedtime story. He loves this book.”

We kept in touch with them to find out about his progress in learning to read on his own. Turns out that he mastered the skill with a lot of ease. Clearly being able to read a book with which so much love was associated, was a fabulous confidence booster. It helped him to overcome any apprehensions and difficulties associated with independent reading. The love for that story book and listening to his mother read to him introduced him to the world of books as a way to experience love, wonder and happiness all at once. To be able to experience all of that by acquiring a new skill such as reading, must have made him feel good about himself.

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.






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