There is some feeling nowadays that reading is not as necessary as it once was. this quote is from 1940 from How to Read a Book. How many of us believe that we are presently in the same situation? after all, we have video, iPods, computers, and televisions that have taken over many of the functions of books, newspapers, and journals. what happens when you stop reading is that you don’t ‘make up your own mind’ about something. instead, you just accept the opinions of others without bothering to give much thought about the idea.
This is one of the reasons reading is so critical. Reading teaches everyone to think for themselves. Remember, reading is an actual activity. you just can’t be passive when you read. you need to actually put out some effort and process the information the writer is giving you. Reading becomes almost like playing catch with a ball. the writer throws the ball and the reader catches it.
Your success in catching the ball, reading, is then determined by how much you receive, understand, and utilize the information you have read. Reading is so much more than just word calling. Reading is the active understanding, contemplation, and utilization of the written word. the result is a greater understanding of the topic than you had before you started to read.
There are several goals of reading: to gain information, to have increased understanding, and to be entertained. Reading for entertainment is the least demanding kind of reading and requires the least amount of effort. this is why we start our children off with reading stories for entertainment. this helps to provide both ease and love of reading.
Once the process of reading is relatively easy, we add reading for information in the way of history, geography, and science. With this in mind, anytime your children read for pleasure -be it comic books, short stories, or novels – rejoice because it will be easier for them when they read for information. Pleasure reading is just that, pleasure reading. so, it is well and fine to read a book written at an easier grade level than their textbooks.
Our goal here is to create readers. As we create readers, we start teaching them how to process, retain, and comprehend the written word. the best way to do this is to teach your reader how to take notes from what they read using simple note-taking graphic organizer forms after they have read a short stories or book. Teach the process with material that is easy and fun. once children are familiar with taking notes and writing summaries, it is easy to move on towards the goal of reading for information, understanding, utilization, and enlightenment with their text books.
There are painless ways to do this. Note taking and writing projects don’t have to be hard. using specially designed graphic organizers will make the process quick and pain free
We can’t keep our heads in the sand, just ‘playing back’ someone else’s opinions. Our children deserve better than that. Our nation deserves better than that. We can teach them how to read for meaning and how to utilize what they have read.
Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET