Reading is a pleasurable pursuit. Reading is also the foundation of learning, and our success in school and career depends a lot on our reading habit. In the book Power of Reading, Stephen Krashen wrote that no single literary activity has a more positive effect on students’ comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, writing ability, and overall academic achievement than free voluntary reading. Reading is not only crucial for academic success, it also plays a key role in nurturing our emotions and value-orientation. But often in schools, teachers and children find it difficult to cultivate reading habit or find joy and pleasure in what they were reading as part of the curriculum. In this short write-up, I would like to throw up some practical tips for you to catch the reading bug.
1) Set reading goal for each day – lifelong readers devote certain amount of time each day for reading. In order to launch yourself onto a reading spree, it is helpful to set a reading goal or target for each day and make sustained efforts to achieve it. The goal should be realistic. For example, depending on your time availability and reading pace, you may set a goal of reading 20 pages a day. That doesn’t mean that you have to read 20 pages every single day. Some days you will be able to read more, and some days less. But having a reading goal keeps you focused and directed. Even with a minimal reading goal of 10 or 20 pages per day, you can easily finish 20 to 30 books in a year.
2) Start with reading books that interest you – as readers, we all have different taste and likings. There are different literary genres or styles such as realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, poetry, biographies/memoirs, etc. Although it is good to read books of different genres, it is good to start with genre that you like the most. If you are a beginner reader, choose books that resonate with your inner self, or in other words, choose books that match your general interests and predilection in life. Through this way, your interest in the book will be sustained and you will develop positive attitude towards reading.
3) Steal reading moments – as students or teachers, we are busy with daily academic and non-academic chores. Therefore, it is hard for us to get a big chunk of time for independent reading. As such it is important to make conscious efforts to grab little chunks of time that you may get in the course of a day. As a student, you have some free time in the morning, during the short/long breaks, lunch break, and after class. Those short ‘moments’ can be turned into productive ‘reading moments’. If we can devote some of those free times for reading, we will be able to make a huge stride in the long run. There is a research which says that if you read one hour per day in your chosen field for seven years, you will become an international expert on the subject. In order to steal and make use of those reading moments when they present themselves to us, you must carry a book wherever you go. For example, while visiting an office or a hospital, sometimes we are made to wait and if you have a book handy, you can turn that waiting time (yawning and cursing) into a reading moment.
4) Engage in book talk – Talking about books is an essential component of cultivating reading habit and building a community of readers. Readers talk about books, and share and recommend good books to each other. That’s how readers scaffold each other. Most of the books I have read in the past were recommended by friends. Therefore, it is good to engage in conversations about books with your peers or with your teachers. Author Donalyn Miller succinctly sums up the importance of book talk by saying “lifelong readers… start with encountering great books, heartfelt recommendations (from friends, teachers, relatives, etc.), and a community of readers who share this passion”. So, just try these ideas out and discover the magical spell of reading. Reading feeds our soul, our emotions, and our intellect. It is indispensible. A community that suffers from reading poverty is in a far worse situation than those suffering from other forms of poverty. Let us become a nation of readers!
By: Kalsang Wangdu