Why do we care so much about our children reading? Why do we push from an early age to read a good book in their free time?
Looking at the Latin word legĕre: ‘to collect, to read’, it is clear that reading triggers a process through which we collect a whole series of information, stories, experiences. In a word, we can say that reading enriches.
There are many benefits to reading, and this is why, from an early age, we are all spurred to read. It stimulates the imagination and fantasy, arouses curiosity, allows us to explore worlds other than our own, puts us in touch with the world of emotions, teaches us to ask questions, expands our vocabulary, and helps us express ourselves. Not only that, reading allows us to grasp a whole range of nuances that are part of life. Many times a good book is a nice refuge, a tool in which to find ourselves, which makes us dream, which helps us get to know ourselves. Supporting this are precisely the great authors of the past such as Foucault who argued that in order to dream, one must not close one’s eyes, one must read.
But then why all this resistance to reading?
The transition to the digital world has certainly put a check on the process of reading. Unlike a movie or a video game, reading requires an active attitude. But in what sense? When we read our brains are in motion, working, processing information and producing images. We may not notice it, but so it is. All reading requires us to actively participate. Kids often prefer low-energy activities. Having to choose between two activities, they opt for the one that costs them the least effort. This is clearly also influenced by the educational context, but it would be worth asking why this latent laziness, this kind of catalepsy, lethargy, reigns among young people.
The 7 tips for motivating young people to read
I recommend 7 effective and non-pushy ways to entice young people to read:
- Never force them to read something
- Do not choose for them what to read
- Accompany them to the bookstore so that they can find something that strikes a chord with them
- Do not control when and how much they read: reading is meant to be an enrichment not a tax to pay
- Read together: it strengthens the relationship and creates a space for sharing
- Make parallels between the stories of the great classics and present life: it helps to feel closer to all those stories that are read in school – often perceived as obsolete and boring – and reveals all the richness of literature
- Look for reading activities to be done in groups: reading together with others could make this activity more enjoyable and, above all, could be a good way to build new friendships
It should not be forgotten that each person is unique. There will be kids who love to read and will be more predisposed to it, and others who will devote their time to different but no less important activities. As a matter of fact, each of us has our own inner world that we are free to express and nurture in the way we feel most suited to us. Reading is one of the tools at our service, but not the only one. It is up to us only to propose and encourage it, aware of the beauty and richness it offers.