“I don't think the basic reasons you often hear about reading to children are strong arguments,” he says. It does not include reading in your spare time.”
Willingham wants his children to love reading. “For me, reading is a family value,” he says. It is something I love and find important. I think I'm getting experiences that I can't get anywhere else without her. So naturally I want my children to experience this feeling.”
A professor of psychology at the University of Virginia uses his book to draw strategies for parents and teachers, hoping to awaken some passion for reading in children.
What are the things we can do for children at an early age to set them on the path of avid readers?
In pre-kindergarten, probably the most important thing you can do is to play games with your child that help him hear the sounds of articulation: rhyming games, reading books with words out loud to him, or any other type of word game , such as word games that rely on alliteration.
Once they understand the basic idea of the game, you can expand further. Children love this type of game that relies on playing with the way words are pronounced.
Example: If you had a child named "Billy". You can say, “Dad's name is Cory, what would happen if we took the first letter of Billy's name, my name would be Puri”, this type of game is the pinnacle of humor for children. I talk to a lot of preschool teachers and they always tell me that it's hard to stop kids once they start playing these games.
These games are frequently found in “Dr. Seuss” for children. Most nursery rhymes are also full of this type of rhyme. It is well known that children who listen to nursery rhymes during their childhood learn to read more easily than other children.
But how do we cultivate a love of reading in young children?
The main rule is that you set an example for your children as a person who loves to read. One of the things I focused on in my book is the importance of creating a feeling in the child that he is a member of a family that appreciates reading. I think many parents do not know how strong this message is for their children; Just like the power of the things you hang on your wall, the rules you put in your house, the way you talk about the people you respect.
You have to set an example in reading, make their reading experience enjoyable, read aloud in a warm, family atmosphere and try to engage them in a positive way. Make sure your family loves to learn new things. Learn about the world, and a large part of that is through reading. In other words, developing the child's feeling that he is a member of a reading family before he even learns to read.
Another piece of advice I give parents is to make reading to a child the most enticing thing they can do. It is not enough for your child to love reading. If they like reading but there is another option available that they like better, they will choose the other. The easiest way to start is to put books where your child gets bored the most. The clearest place is in the car. You should also be careful not to provide ready-made entertainment for them all the time
My wife keeps a basket full of children's magazines in the living room. My six-year-old reads it voraciously. And now his three-year-old brother is imitating him. My nine-year-old daughter is an avid reader, and I think her younger sister is, too. But I think what contributed greatly to that was watching her older sister read.
Do you think that digital devices: 1- keep us away from reading? 2- Reduce the ability to focus?
There is no evidence that digital devices reduce our ability to focus. There is no evidence that the amount of attention has deteriorated or diminished over the past 50 years. The mind is malleable. But I think attention is central to anything we do and it's unlikely that it's ever been diminished outright. If this were to happen, we would either all become stupid or many cognitive processes would adapt to the situation in one way or another.
I think parents and teachers feel that children are more distracted than they were ten years ago, and they blame digital devices. What all digital devices have in common is that they provide instant entertainment. This entertainment is varied and available all the time, and requires little effort on my part as a parent. I think attention has not diminished but our beliefs and behaviors have changed. Our current belief is that "boredom is not normal, and I'm never supposed to be bored."
What's your take when it comes to rewarding kids for reading?
Sometimes rewards are completely counterproductive. Because in this way you communicate to your child that “reading is something you don't expect them to do themselves,” you usually reward people for things you think are unpleasant, and they will only do those things if they are rewarded in return. So, when you reward your child for reading, you are clearly telling him, “Reading is something I don’t expect you will enjoy doing.”
There is good evidence that when you reward people for doing something, given that you find the right reward, they will do more of it. But when the reward is stopped, they will either stop doing it completely or they will do it less. The reason for this is that everyone has a different motivation that motivates them. For this child who is not rewarded for reading, “he will tell himself to read this book because I am the type who likes to read,” while the child who is rewarded will say, “to read because my father rewards me for this act.” And if the father stops rewarding, the child has no motivation to read that book. That's why I advise not to be rewarded the first method you try. But if it was the only way to get a child to read, I would definitely consider it.