A love of reading

I was the precocious little girl who was always asked to read aloud in class, the one who could spell the most complicated words in what was Standard One in those days.

I devoured Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair and I was the eighth member of the Secret Seven.

As I grew older, I dreamed romantic dreams along with the girls in Sweet Valley High and eventually used my passion for words, reading and knowledge to become a journalist.

It’s no wonder then that I hoped and prayed that my love for reading would be passed on to my children.

No such luck!

My eldest son Ciaran would rather clean his room, than read a book. My youngest son Braedan escapes on his bicycle at the mere mention of reading. Only 4-year- old Ava gives me hope. Our favourite time of the day is just before bedtime, when she “reads” her books to me.

Low reading scores

I’m extremely worried about my sons’ lack of interest in reading, especially when the Education Department releases figures from its Annual National Assessments, which shows that the literacy rate in South Africa is 35% for grade 3’s and 28% for grade 6’s.

I struggle to believe that reading is being taken seriously by the department, when my 12-year-old son still battles to spell the most basic words properly.

But we can’t place the blame entirely on the teaching profession. It is, after all, our job as parents to encourage our children to read.

Family reading rules

The O’Connors have some rules in place:
  • The television is not switched on until all homework and reading is done
  • We have compulsory reading time in the afternoons. Everyone, including mom, sits in the lounge an reads for half an hour
  • We then chat briefly about what we’ve read

It seems to be working for now, but there are days, especially when we’ve spent several hours next to a cricket pitch, where I’m tempted to let the rules slip.

I must admit, I’d far rather read my own novel when I’m able to catch a moment or two of free time, but I’m quite enjoying reading Fix-it-duck with Ava for what feels like the millionth time.

Tips for encouraging reading

Do your children enjoy reading? Is it still important for children to read for pleasure?
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