If we want to get our children reading and then keep them reading, it’s really helpful to understand what motivates them to read. To find this out, researchers most often observe children’s reading behaviour and/or talk to their teachers and other adults in their lives. But, surprisingly, very few researchers actually speak to children themselves.
Here is what the children (aged 9 and 10) in one study conducted by Kathryn Edmunds and Kathryn Bauserman said about books and reading. They said that:
* they were more likely to read a book that they had chosen, than a book chosen for them by a teacher or parent.
* they liked books that matched their personal interests.
* they were more likely to choose books that have exciting covers and action-packed plots, as well as books that are funny or scary, and have great illustrations.
* what they could learn from reading a book, was important to them.
* their interest in reading was sparked and encouraged by their family members (especially their mothers), teachers and friends.
* most of the books they read came from a library.
* libraries gave them the opportunity to look at lots of different books before choosing the ones they wanted to read.
* they often found out about books they might want to read by talking to their friends.
* they motivated themselves to read – once they’d caught the reading bug, they just wanted to keep reading!
* they enjoyed being read to by family members and teachers, even though they could already read!
So, what can we learn from this?
* Make sure that your children have access to books. Children who can get books more easily, read more. Take them to the library and, when you can, buy books for them to own.
* Make sure that there is a wide variety of books to choose from so that they can select books that interest them. Again, the library can help here.
* Let them choose their own books.
* Speak to your children about books and read to them, no matter their age.
* Encourage your children to speak to other children about books. Let them join an existing reading club or start one of your own!