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Book clubs: Not only for bookworms

Last Updated : 03 October 2022, 17:07 IST
Last Updated : 03 October 2022, 17:07 IST

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Children who read for pleasure almost every day tend to have a better vocabulary which helps them in handling a vast variety of texts with ease. On the other hand, children who need to expand their vocabulary are the ones who are likely to be the slowest and read less material. They read less because they understand less on account of a poor vocabulary. Without the right kind of support, they avoid reading. As they grow older, the gap between the children who read and those who don’t, keeps growing.

Encouraging children to read for pleasure is very important. Learning to read is a difficult skill. Sometimes it can be incredibly frustrating for children. Once they cross that level, developing an interest in reading on their own mostly develops over time with the required support and motivation.

The support could be in terms of storytelling sessions, parent reading aloud a story every day as part of bonding time, discussions around books that have been read and so on. In other words, making books a constant companion in their daily lives in multiple ways makes it easier for children to take to books.

Typically, children at and around the age of nine, find less time to read. The time spent in school increases and so do extracurricular activities post-school. These other interests begin to fill in time slots and the emphasis on reading for pleasure drops substantially. This has a tremendous impact on the child’s comprehension abilities, vocabulary and writing skills.

Motivation to read for pleasure

Book clubs can bridge this gap. How? Reading needn’t be a solitary activity. Book clubs pave the way for discussions based on a common book, typically chosen by the group or sometimes by the facilitator who is running the book club, based on certain predetermined factors.

Either way, children’s book clubs, when managed with the intention of supporting all kinds of readers, can be an incredibly useful tool in a child’s reading journey.

Less enthusiastic readers may find themselves with enthusiastic readers who bring to the forefront the joy they derive from reading books. The positive result would be if the non-enthusiastic reader develops a healthy camaraderie with an enthusiastic reader and in the process cultivates the desire to become a reader.

On the flip side, if the book club facilitator isn’t careful, the less enthusiastic readers’ lack of confidence in their reading abilities could get accentuated, thus completely denying these children the benefits of a book club.

Exploring new genres and helping the transition to chapter books: Children who are beginner readers sometimes are hesitant to try new books on their own. Reading in a group and a facilitator’s support goes a long way in enabling these children to overcome the fear of reading anything new.

The same is true when children are trying to make a transition to chapter books from picture books. Chapter books are longer and can be daunting for many children who are moving from picture books.

Learning to appreciate a book

This is something that may not be possible when a child reads a book on his or her own. There would always be a tendency to get carried away with the content. Book club discussions initiated by the facilitator, help to break down the book concept into the portions such as characters, their personalities and their roles in the story, the setting of the story, the plot, the problem, the writing style, etc.

These kinds of discussions open up perspectives and pave the way for analysis of different writing approaches. Over time, children begin to appreciate the differences in writing styles and the corresponding impact that they create on the readers. They become more observant as readers and the takeaways from such experiences help hone their writing skills even better.

In sum, reading for pleasure can immensely help in enhancing a child’s vocabulary, reading comprehension and writing skills. The good news is that reading as an activity can also be entertaining, provided the child is allowed to experiment with a variety of books. Children’s book clubs play an instrumental role in helping children get exposed to a variety of genres and develop a keen interest in reading.

(The author is the founder of Talking Circles, a confidence-building programme for children)

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Published 03 October 2022, 16:45 IST

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