I've noticed this unfortunate trend because I work at a library. I don't know about any of you, but I really love the national reading program to get children reading. This years theme is Dig Into Reading and the cute dinosaurs and bug prizes seem to really have the kids participating excited. The more books you read, the more little prizes you win and the more chances you get at winning the bigger prizes, like stuffed animals or ant farms, or huge life-size blown up t-rex's. The list and the fun is infinite. And it's a point of pride that in my library consortium consisting of about 75 other libraries, my library has always finished somewhere in the top 10 libraries. But this year, we have the least amount of kids signed up that have ever signed up despite the fact that my area experienced some sort of mini baby-boom a few years ago.
And you want to know what the excuse is every time we ask if a child would like to join?
No, thanks! I've got too much reading for school!
I love the fact that the schools are giving the kids more reading, but they're making them hate reading. When I was younger, I was given a list of about 20 different books each summer and I could pick any one I wanted. There was books for boys, books for girls, books about princesses, books about sports. There was something for everyone. Now, the kids are given two assigned books: one biography and another non-fiction book. And they're long, monotonous, and boring. It's making these kids hate reading. I literally see this face all the time when parents take kids to the library to try to get them to read their summer reading.
Again, I'm beginning college in September and I still sit here sometime and run screaming for the hills when I am assigned a required non-fiction reading book. If I don't like them now, I most definitely hated them when I was younger and still learning how to read. If a book didn't have cute animals, a paranormal aspect, or something fairytale-like in it, I would not pick it up. And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a majority of the younger kids today share similar sentiments.
Time after time I've had parents rant to me about this, about how their kids just won't read anymore because it's taking them forever to get through these uninteresting non-fiction books. Some parents don't like this either. And I feel as if it's a true problem because reading is so important to me and a great majority of people who will probably read this post. I've seen the most eager beginning readers stop reading because the material their school provided them just made them fall asleep. And while I understand the importance of pushing non-fiction books because of educational purposes, I think school's could go about it in different ways. Their attempt to expand a readers horizons is not going well right now.
I'd be more compelled to read such a book in a classroom setting as opposed to at home in the summer. Anything I read in the summer, I would want to be fun and I would want to enjoy it. The summer is not for suffering! The summer is for fun! In the classroom we can read it as a group on a schedule set by a teacher and we can ask questions. I think that younger readers would benefit more from that then their parents telling them they have to finish a book that they hate.
Perhaps they can push such a thing for older kids instead of beginning readers. You know, those kids who are beginning to prepare for the fact that they're going to have to write essays with books as sources that they must read to glean information from. Odds are those kids still hate nonfiction books too (I know I did!) but they'll be more likely to read said books because they're going to have to in order to continue on with their education in the near future. Plus, it doesn't ruin the amazing thing that is reading for them since they have been reading for so long. By this point in their education they'd figure out by themselves whether they're dedicated readers or not. They wouldn't have the option forced away by bad reading material.
I end up in reading funk's after reading a single bad book. It could take me a few days to get back into reading. A kid who doesn't really understand what reading can do for them because they're still learning to read just gives it all up and misses out on the opportunities that it can offer at the first sign of a bad book. And when these books are getting handed to them so young the results seem to be bad. No bueno, people! Witnessing this for the past two months does not make me a happy camper.
What's your stance on this issue? Is something similar to this happening near you? Do you think there's a better way that school's can go about introducing non-fiction reading materials to young students?
The content will vary but the posts will (hopefully) never be boring!