When a child walks into the playground for the very first time they enter into their very own age of discovery. Between the ages of 5 and 11 we are filled with rampant curiosity and a thirst to explore the unknown. But that’s not all our rapidly developing brains are focused on during this exciting time in our lives. The imagination runs wild. We bring magic to life and believe in the impossible. Our ever-learning minds work in ways that our adult-selves can only remember with a feeling of distant admiration.
There’s nothing more important than feeding a youngster’s vibrant imagination and new-found sense of wonder – and reading stories is the main (and most satisfying) course! A story admits a child entry into an entirely new world with adventure around every turn.
We humans often carry our childhood interests with us into adulthood. Teaching primary school students to draw pleasure from the pages of a storybook will introduce them to a hobby that could soon become a lifelong passion. But why should children choose reading as a hobby? Well, reading during your spare time (no matter what age you may be) offers so many intellectual benefits. It broadens your vocabulary, increases your scope for creativity and expands your understanding of anything and everything that there is to know about the world. Books create smart minds, and smart minds go on to achieve amazing things.
It’s now more than ever that we need to encourage reading for fun amongst the younger generation. Technology is taking over. Everyday young people are investing more and more of their spare time into their electronic devices. Whether it’s the latest Xbox game that they’re buying or a new smartphone app that they’re trying, a child’s leisure time is overwhelmingly technological in focus. This certainly has its drawbacks. The 2019 ‘What Kids are Reading’ report unveiled the shocking truth that many secondary school students read books that are targeted towards primary school students. You’d think that as children grew up they’d read more challenging books, but unfortunately that’s just not the case! Instead, the opposite is taking place, with children opting for less advanced books in relation to their age group. The message is clear: literacy levels are beginning to stagnate once children enter secondary school – let’s get them on the incline again!
Setting up a book club is exactly the kind of encouragement that children need to get them reading for fun of their own accord. Ofsted do enforce a reading for pleasure policy, but this is often seen as an extension of the curriculum. We want kids to see reading as a fun activity that they can enjoy during their free time – not just another part of the long (and compulsory) school day! Our primary school book clubs consist of Book Clubbers from Years 4-6 and Sixth Form Book Club Leaders. The Sixth Formers act as mentors to the Book Clubbers, getting them involved in gripping debates and discussions about books that they’re bound to love. The younger students look up to their mentors as role models; they are inspired and heavily influenced by them. This means that the Book Clubbers learn one crucial lesson from their mentors: that reading for fun is cool!
Primary school students are at a stage in their lives where they need constant support and guidance. It’s largely up to their parents to direct them down the right path and set them on track for a bright future. This means that we need to get the parents involved where reading for pleasure is concerned; if parents are kept in the loop then reading at home will definitely become a regular thing. We’re talking letters home, flyers, emails, however you want to spread the word! Tell them all about the positive effects that reading as a hobby can have on a child’s mind. Persuade them to get into the habit of reading a bedtime story to their little one every night. Recommend books – and make them readily available if possible!
Our efforts could be the difference between a child turning on their games console and picking up a book: let’s help them make the right decision!
To find out more about how you can get a book club up and running in your school, get in touch.
By Eleanor Blake