Bedtime reading is a ritual in most households and parents become skilled at the game. They also become familiar with the stories as children like to have the same ones read to them over and over again. Then they go to school, learn to read and the ritual often comes to an end. Why is this? Is there some automatic click off that says kids should take on responsibility for their own bedtime story once they learn to read? The problem is it’s often a signal for a child to stop reading altogether.
Reading may be hard for them, and thus a chore. It’s not every child who finds their place in the news headlines by reading hundreds of books in the holidays! Of course many children become readers and enjoy the magical world of books for themselves. But it’s a little sad for those who don’t, perhaps even detrimental if children spend more time with visuals on the computer.
The major difference between visual entertainment and reading is the participation demanded by the reader. You don’t just take in the meaning of words when you read. You actively throw up pictures in your own imagination. You create the story as you’re reading it.
You also take in a series of signals that give you the nuances of the story, shades of meaning, the flow of rhythms and the intended mood and atmosphere. You enhance your vocabulary without effort, merely by understanding words in a particular context.
All this is done merely with words, by the way they are placed and the choices of which ones are used. This is the skill of the writer, to use words in such a way that the reader is able to conjure up a world complete in itself.
The joy of reading is this adventure into another place, another time, another mind. And yet that world is incomplete without the reader’s personal interpretation of that place and time with the tool of his own mind. Writer and reader enter a pact, in which they journey together through the story, each helping the other to build a world unique to the reader.
Ask any two people who have read the same book about the world they entered, and you will find a different world for each. It is this experience that sets reading apart from visual entertainment, which feeds the viewer so much of what the reader must create for himself.
What a pity for any child to be deprived of this incredibly exciting adventure! The virtual world is nothing to the world of the child’s own imagining and reading brings such worlds to life. Book quizzes can help motivate children to read!
Thus the bedtime ritual is not only an education, but is richly rewarding too. If a child shows no sign of exploring books on their own, why not keep the ritual going? Read books to children that they would find hard to read by themselves as well as those suitable to their age group. Hopefully, they will find the pleasure makes them decide in the end to go it alone. Then you’ve got a reader.
For further reading you’ll find answers to your education questions in our Knowledge Bank. Want to know how much it costs to go to university? Look no further! How about the learning style which best suits you? We’ve got all the info on that too. So, if there’s anything you’ve ever wondered about education but never got round to finding out, you know exactly where to go!
Coming from professional theatre, Elizabeth Bailey taught drama for many years alongside her writing career. Multi-published, she now writes full time, both her own novels and ghostwriting, as well as critiquing for other writers.