Despite the popular idea that, due to technological advances, which children are fascinated by, it is very hard to get a child excited with reading, the latter can, in fact, be turned into a child’s hobby rather easily. According to what Dr. Peter Afferbach states, watching children learn to read, one can observe the Matthew effect coming into action: the children who have a positive experience of reading are eager to indulge in the process even more, while those who have suffered some sort of failure will most likely be very reluctant to read, to say the least (Afferbach, n. d.).
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Speaking of a personal experience with a reluctant reader, I must mention that one of the students, whom I am tutoring now in attempts to teach him to read, is alarmingly persistent in his refusal to read at least a passage from a book. Like any other children, Paul would spend a lot of time playing videogames or chatting in a social network with his friends. However, he can also spend quite a lot of time working on his school projects, which is why I have decided that laziness is not an issue here. As it turned out, during his first reading experience, he found the book incredibly boring and could not get past the first few pages. As a result, Paul cannot get excited about any type of reading, be it the genre of adventure, mystery, detective, etc.
To address the problem, one must find the answers to such questions as what book the student was reading, what impression it made on him, and why he considered it boring. More importantly, it will be crucial to trick the student into discussing the book. Thus, Paul will be able to get invested in one part of the reading experience – the analysis of what has been read – and, therefore, it will be easier for him to pass to the actual reading. In addition, the answer that Paul will provide will shed some light on the means of addressing his problem. By learning what negative factors have affected his perception of reading, one will be able to eliminate these factors and, thus, create the premises for Paul to reconsider his experience and have a new one. Another question, the answer to which is going to matter in defining the further teaching strategy, is what Paul would like to read about. To develop the student’s reading skills and enhance his motivation, it will be reasonable to start by offering him the type of literature that he will be interested in.
The aforementioned questions will help understand what exactly stops the student from trying having a reading experience once again. In addition, these questions will help find out what prevented the student from enjoying other reading experiences; for instance, it will be required to find out what kept Paul from reading the books that were designed to look exciting and, therefore, could prompt his willingness to read. Finally, it should be kept in mind that, apart from books, there are other media, which provide some kind of reading experience (e.g., specific sites, like Wikipedia), or provide a substitution for it (e.g., comic books). A careful analysis of Paul’s problem carried out with the help of the RSPS test will help define the strategy for the problem solution and “foster maximum literacy growth” (Henk & Melnisk, 1995, p. 470).
Afferbach, P. (n. d.). Assessing motivation to read [Video file].
Henk, W. A. & Melnisk, S. A. (1995). The reader self-perception scale (RSPS): A new tool for measuring how children feel about themselves as readers. The Reading Teacher, 48(6), 470–482.