The simple reason why children hate reading is usually because they are weak at reading.
Children are just like us – we tend to avoid tasks that we are weak in. For example, if we find exercising a chore, it is usually because we are unfit in the first place. Conversely, people tend to do what they do best. For example, when people choose what courses to enrol in for higher education, they tend to choose the subjects they scored the highest grade in.
Of course, there might be other underlying reasons why children are weak at reading. They could have developmental issues like dyslexia. Or they might have eyesight issues. These challenges require professional help and are something a blog like this will be unable to give much assistance in. However, if the underlying reason is that the child has not been given the tools and resources for reading, then please read on.
First of all, let us consider the Matthew Effect. The Matthew Effect of accumulated advantage describes the phenomenon where “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” The term was first coined by sociologist Robert K. Merton in 1968 and takes its name from a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. In the context of reading, the Matthew Effect describes how the strong reader keeps reading and becomes a proficient reader while the weak reader avoids reading and becomes a poor reader. This was the view of cognitive science researcher Keith Stanovich when he observed how poor reading skills impacts all aspects of academic performance in later life.
There are two charts below showing the differences between a strong read and a weak reader.
Therefore, it is important that we do not abandon a weak reader. Otherwise they will eventually hit a ceiling in their learning.
How can parents help their children to love reading?
1. Model behaviour – You are your child’s first teacher. Show your love of reading to your child. You are the advertisement that shows how important and enjoyable reading is.
2. Read aloud to your child. Research shows that reading aloud to your children has plenty of benefits.
3. Allow your child some independence in choosing his own books. A child is more likely to read if the books appeal to him. So do not be dictatorial and only allow him to read books that you choose.
4. Teach your child phonics. There are many great phonics programmes and resources around. Many of them include CDs and DVDs, so even if you are not proficient, there are visual and audio aids.
If, in spite of your efforts, your child still suffers from bibliophobia (fear of books), you can email us for help.
I wish you and your child happy reading!
Source: Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy, Stanovich, Keith, Reading Research Quarterly, 1986