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The Importance of Raising Life-long Readers


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“What are you reading at the moment?”

I have recently started asking our students this question as we cross paths throughout the day. Sometimes the answer is a puzzled look, but more often than not it sparks a good conversation about all sorts of topics. But why should we read, especially when we can “just watch the film version”?

The benefits of reading are well researched. It helps develop written communication skills, vocabulary and concentration, as well as teaches us about the world in which we live including parts of it we may know nothing about. Reading promotes empathy and sometimes allows us to completely de-stress and lose ourselves in the world the author has created for us.

The importance of reading cannot be underestimated in our expanding and more digitalised world where the amount of information available to read is ever-increasing as attention spans decrease. Studies have shown that regular reading has more of an impact on student achievement in school than most forms of homework. Students who regularly read for pleasure often achieve higher academic results than those who do not. This is why it is so important to get our students into good habits and to develop a love of reading.

Teachers will often write on student report cards that students should read more, but parents often ask us what they should be encouraging their children to read. My answer is always the same: whatever gets them reading. Quite often it does not matter what children are reading, as long as they are enjoying it and it is of a level that is challenging enough for them. This will get them into the habit of reading and will enable them to develop an array of skills throughout their lifetime.

Personally, I think there is nothing better than sitting on a large cosy sofa with a cup of coffee and a good book, but in today’s day and age, I accept this may not be everyone’s idea of reading. I still prefer to read a paper version of a newspaper, but others prefer digital versions. Neither is wrong and both are reading. It is this fine balance we need to find with our students, getting them into reading, while also accepting that their reading preferences and habits may be different to ours.

5 tips to encourage your child to read

  1. Let your children choose what they want to read
  2. Establish a regular reading time each day/week
  3. Visit your local library
  4. Make reading and what you read a regular topic of conversation
  5. Fill your house with things to read (books, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.)

Lana Kulas is the Head of Secondary School for Girls at the Swiss International School (Doha, Qatar). Lana has been working in education for eleven years, four of those in Qatar. Before arriving in Doha, Lana was an Assistant Principal and Head of Sixth Form at Chelsea Academy in London, where she helped to set up a large new school. Lana is passionate about international education and the IB programme. The IB’s mission of creating lifelong learners goes hand in hand with creating lifelong readers. For more information about Lana and the school, please visit sisq.qa