“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
– Oscar Wilde
Reading is an essential part of our lives, especially at the primary and secondary levels. For years, there has been a lot of emphasis on reading. However, as we moved into the 21st century, there was a noticeable shift towards the use of technology. The fundamentals of education (or as is often stated in America, the 3Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic) are equally as important as innovative 21st century skills. While sustained reading may not be the popular choice for many learners, creating good readers is essential for academic success.
Modeling is a very common teaching strategy. It sets the example for expectations of outcomes. Modeling reading teaches learners how texts should be read. Modeling allows the learner to engage with text.
Research indicates that one of the signs of a good reader is his/her ability to have a running script in mind as he/she reads. A running script is the concept of the reader visualizing all parts of the text as he/she is reading – the characters, events, setting, etc. Once a reader becomes engaged with the text, it facilitates his/her ability to visualize the text. Educators can scaffold this process by modeling reading, and having learners close their eyes as they think about what they hear. Then have learners, dictate what was running through their mind as the text was read; this can also be a good informal assessment of reading.
Being a good reader does not simply imply the ability to read the words on a page. It involves understanding the words. In order to do that, learners require the necessary vocabulary to access the text. Many times vocabulary is taught in school, but often as part of a ‘to do list’ of vocabulary words to satisfy an outcome; however, students rarely encounter these words in context. Teaching vocabulary in context is essential to a learner’s ability to access to the text. Vocabulary in context does not have to be taught in isolation, but could be accomplished through teaching learners how to use context clues to gain meaning of new words.
Many educators give reading comprehension exams, but are we teaching reading comprehension? Reading comprehension attempts to assess the learner’s understanding of the text. Reading for comprehension is a skill that should be taught, not just assessed. We should ask questions throughout the reading process to gauge understanding rather than only waiting until the end of the text, and using that as an assessment of comprehension.
In order to be a good reader, one must practice the skill of reading. Just like any good musician, artist, etc., reading must be practiced. Learners should engage in at least 30 minutes of reading each day. Encourage young learners to read signs, posters and advertisements in their environment.
While all of these methods of encouraging good readers are great, the best way of creating good readers is to teach help them discover the joys of reading.
By Melissa Monney
Melissa is a passionate educator from the United States of America. She currently works with the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi. Melissa is highly qualified and experienced. She is fluent in both French and Spanish, and has a basic level of Arabic.