Sunday, February 06, 2011

Why read

For the love of books
Letter from Preeti Athavle
05:55 AM Feb 07, 2011

The letter by Chng Hee Kok ("More help for less well-known schools?", Jan 26) was an eye-opener for me. For the first time, I realised how children from low-income families might not be able to visit libraries as their parents might be too busy to bring them.

There are also other children who don't read much. Either they don't know what books to read or their parents don't inculcate the habit in them as they do not consider it important. I'd like to suggest some solutions.

Some local schools have reading programmes (often assisted by parent volunteers) for Primary 1 students who may be lagging behind. Why don't we extend that to higher levels?

We could have a parent volunteer who comes in after school, and reads a chapter or two from a good book (like a Book Reading Club). A good story could ignite interest in some children to actually borrow that book from the library and read. Even if just 10 per cent of the children become willing to read more, it would be worth the time and effort.

I am impressed with the National Library's amazing collection of books and its e-systems that let you renew or search for a book online, for instance.

What is interesting is that in the children's section, you can check the computer for books and authors that have won awards.

For parents and children who don't know which books to read, this provides an easy reference, thereby not restricting the children to Geronimo Stilton, Harry Potter and other such popular books, but also exposing them to the beautiful works of Andrew Clements, Betsy Byars, Cynthia Rylant and many more.

There are parents who think books are a waste of time and their kids should do workbooks instead. But when their child reaches P4/P5, he or she struggles with the harder vocabulary in comprehension passages. Schools could stress to parents from the start that reading books will help their children.

Many a time my son, who is in the Gifted Education Programme, returns from his English exam expressing the desire to read a particular book, his curiosity having been ignited by the comprehension passage which was taken from that book.

Books are our window to the world. They expose us to beautiful writing, historical events, different cultures and much more. But with the growing pervasiveness of TV, computers and video games, children are losing the patience to sit down and read a book. If not cultivated early, a child might never develop this interest.

1. Improve your knowledge,
2. Understand more about life, society and yourself
3. Have Fun,
4. Make your imagination fly,
5. Find new ways to express your ideas,
6. Expand your vocabulary.

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