How to arouse a taste for books in children? This is a question that many professionals and parents ask themselves and to which there is not just one but a multitude of answers. Indeed, each child is different and will need various incentives in their journey towards reading.
The first recommendation of specialists is not to be afraid of making children aware of the world of books early on. Even babies are receptive to it, and learn from books, as the author of children’s literature Colette Barbé-Julien explains in Toddlers, already readers : “Books help the little one in all his learning: speaking, preparing himself. to learn to read and write (much later!), to observe images as an aesthetic object and as a representation of the world. “.
Books give young people information about their world and help them develop their imaginations. Between toy books, fabric books, plastic (for the bath for example), cardboard, animated books (pop-up), or even audio books, the choice is vast.
The most important thing is to take the child seriously and to stimulate him intellectually: choose stories that offer new vocabulary, with humor or adventure, or even surprising, captivating stories with rich and stimulating drawings. .
Readings to share
Reading aloud develops many abilities in children: language both in terms of vocabulary and grammatical structures as well as the difference between spoken and written language, understanding the narrative structure of a story (beginning, middle and end), the fact that a book must be read in a particular sense, and from the age of three or four, the ability to recognize certain letters and then series of letters. Reading aloud is also associated with better memorization , by bringing the text to life and creating a bond between adult and child around reading.
Even when the child can read, it is not necessary to stop reading aloud, it allows the child to discover works that would be too complicated in read-only and to continue sharing the literary world.
It should also be borne in mind that a child discovers the world around him through his parents in the first place and will want to copy their behavior. A child who sees adults reading around him will want to go and get a book much more than a child who does not have easy access to books or adults who set an example by reading in front of him.
We can cite the work of the association “Lire et faire lire” which intervenes in many structures (schools, “early childhood” structures, libraries, socio-cultural associations, leisure centers, medico-social structures) to allow children to ‘hear stories and immerse yourself in the world of books.
Fun challenges to take up
Teachers, documentalists, librarians, booksellers and all professionals in the book world are committed to making children, adolescents and adults want to read and encourage many activities such as reading rallies , meetings with authors or book clubs .
In recent years, schools have started to implement a new system called “Silence, on lit! “ . Originating from an experiment carried out at Tevfik Fikret high school in Ankara in 2001, this device sets up periods of 15 minutes of reading every day at the same time (often just after the lunch break). During this quarter of an hour, each pupil must read a book, either that he has borrowed from the CDI, or that he brings back home.
This time is therefore both individual and collective reading time that allows students to be completely immersed in reading without external distractions. The choice of book is left completely free (book, comics, album, magazine, etc.) and a pupil can change books if he wishes during this quarter of an hour, but he must read.
This initiative has the advantage of reaching all students, whether they like to read or not, and helps those who have not yet developed an appetite to read to enjoy the pleasures of reading in a reassuring context. Reading becomes a real pleasure in the school environment, without the sometimes punitive nature of reading tests or comments and essays to write.
Set up in France since 2017 , this system is affecting more and more schools but can also be developed in other places such as companies, universities, retirement homes, communities, etc.
Since the 1980s, many books have been written with the primary goal of reconciling children with reading. This theme began in the English-speaking world with now classic titles such as J’aime les livres de Anthony Browne (original title: I like books published in 1988) or J’aime pas lire! by Rita Marshall and Etienne Delessert (original title I Hate to Read! published in 1992). These two books allow young children to discover the variety of finds that can be found in the library: from funny books to strange books, to adventure books.
More recently, two beautiful albums have been released in English, The King of the Library by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes (2007, original title: Library Lion ) and It’s a Book by Lane Smith (2010, original title It’s a Book ). The first title is a large format album which leads the young reader to appropriate the codes of the library via the adventures of a lion. The illustrations are very detailed, the text is airy and the story is moving. The second album explains with humor what a book is through a rhythmic conversation between a monkey and a donkey.
For older children, other books are also aimed at recalcitrant readers, such as Down with reading! by Didier Lévy. The text is simple, filled with jokes for the young child (and for the adult), and the layout as well as the two-tone illustrations are worked on so that each double page is completely different from the previous one. These visual changes break up the monotony of reading and allow you to make new discoveries with each change of page.
Stop the books! by Brigitte Smadja follows the story of Basile, a boy who doesn’t like books but who receives them for every birthday. So he thinks about plans to get rid of all this cluttering paperwork: why not turn them into lamp stands or even feed them to his sister? Written in a humoristic tone and illustrated by Serge Bloch, this book touchingly details the problems encountered by children who do not like reading.
Those Who Don’t Like Reading Rachel Corenblit also plays a character who hates books and is forced to go to the library every week. To take revenge, he creates the “club of those who do not like to read” and together they will hatch a plan to take revenge on the books. Julie Colombet’s black and white illustrations create a rather dark atmosphere and highlight this hatred for the book that emanates from the characters. These books can allow the child to put words and pictures on his feelings and can open the discussion on the place of books and reading.
And of course we must not forget that comics are an integral part of reading for young and old. The important thing is that reading remains a pleasure!
And when is it not enough?
Each child advances in the discovery of reading and books at their own pace. An initial refusal does not presuppose a refusal at all and you have to be patient with a child who does not want to read right away. But, sometimes it can hide other learning problems. Dyslexia is a reading disorder or alteration which “results in reading generally hesitant, slowed down, peppered with errors which nevertheless required a great deal of effort”.
In addition to a follow-up by professionals, it is possible to present to the child books which offer an easier reading such as those of the collection “dyscool” , with a very readable font, an airy layout; difficult words are not only defined at the bottom of the page but especially colored by syllable to help the child to decipher them. For example, we can recommend Eric Sanvoisin’s The Ink Drinker, who follows the misadventures of a little boy, the son of a bookseller, but who doesn’t like reading, until he meets an ink drinker!
Author Bio: Eléonore Cartellier has a Doctorate in British Literature at the Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA)