Why doesn’t my child like to read?
As parents, we want to find our children in their rooms, before bedtime, engrossed in a good book – as we once were. Sucked into a captivating story that entertains as well as educates. We yearn for our progenies to discover the beauty of literature, be inspired by the viewpoints of influential people throughout history and unearth the mysteries of the world.
These days that seems like a piece of fiction itself. The fact is, over the years, there has been a phenomenal decline in people reading – this includes adults as well as children. When I say reading, I mean reading meaningful works of fiction and non-fiction. And no, the latest tweet from Zayn Malik doesn’t count.
So, why has this happened?
Well, the world is moving fast, technology is taking quantum leaps, and we are forever trying to keep up. We have even incorporated innovative technology into our lives to help us keep up. Multitasking has revolutionised the way we do things, we get things done easier and much faster; which is great, but this came at a cost. The cost of concentration, or attention span. To keep up, we are always trying to save time; we are always trying to juggle multiple tasks, so much so that we have begun to find it hard to give undivided attention to each specific task.
For example, we find it hard to have conversations with people without glancing at our phone. We look at the device to check the time and suddenly discover that someone has sent us an email – we open the email and have now completely forgotten why we were looking at the time. We’re now late.
Every time we hear the message tone, we robotically hunt for our device. We have sort of become ruled by it.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am very fond of technological innovations, gadgets and various other shiny things – and no, I don’t believe that A.I. is going to outwit us and send an oversized man back through time to destroy mankind, although I can’t say that I wouldn’t be impressed if it did. I am merely highlighting an observation.
Now, if this is the effect that tech is having on us, then what is it doing to our children?
Remember, our children were born in an era of shiny devices that do weird and wonderful things. And our children are way, way smarter than us. It becomes hard for them to tear their eyes away from graphically enchanting games filled with colour and high-quality, stereo sound, or action-packed 4K videos, to sit quietly reading words from a book.
Staring at a screen is effortless, therefore reading is a chore.
As amazing as all this modern technology is, is how destructive it can be. It kills creativity and imagination. How can your child use their imagination if they are always engaged with a device? Creativity and imagination usually come to life in boredom.
How can we deal with this?
One way would be to gather all the electronic devices in the house, take them into the garden, make a huge fire and lob them in. Stand there with a twisted look of triumph and watch them burn mercilessly and then bury the ashes deep into the ground to eliminate all traces. But I don’t think that would be good for the environment… or your mental health.
Another solution would be to initiate measures of control. I call it “Operation Screen Time” which is just a fancy way of saying restricted usage of devices. So, you don’t eliminate all possibilities of your child enjoy playing a game, watching a video, etc., but you ensure that they come off it and read a book. In fact, it might be an idea to make reading a condition or screen time a reward for reading. That part is best judged by parents as each child is different and as parents, you will know how to best deal with that.
Another great tip is to understand what your children are interested in and would enjoy reading. Helping your children improve their reading and vocabulary doesn’t mean you have to get them an encyclopaedia, there are plenty of great, entertaining children’s books filled with great writing and vocab. Authors like David Walliams have created some delightful books adored by children.
Take your children to the library regularly, let them wander around and discover the wonderful world books.