How to get children to read - Tap into their imagination...
Robert Bullock, Features Writer
Even the most reluctant boy readers can be encouraged to start to recognise words and begin basic reading if you tap into something very important to them, their imagination!
Young children need visual stimulation to begin to want to recognise words. Pictures and photos can help word association and puppets can really help in the telling of a story as can silly voices and sounds. Children also need to feel that the learning is being driven by them! Simply by reading to them might not encourage them to take part and may end up with nodding heads and drooping eye lids! Get the children to think about the pictures or puppets, words or letters that might be associated with them and sounds that may come from creatures or in certain situations.
Dinosaurs reach out to almost every young child! They look amazing, they come in lots of shapes, sizes and colours and they ROOOOOOAAAARRRRR! Children love to pretend to be something and if you're two and half, pretending to be a T Rex or a Pteranodon is really cool!
Recently I visited some Early Years children at a school in Cumbria and took out the illustrations from my first book Noah Ramsbottom and the Cave Elves. In this book Noah goes through door number one at the Magic Cave and into a prehistoric world.
"What's lives in a prehistoric world?" I asked the small group of young children.
Nearly every single hand shot up!
"Dinosaurs!" The yelled in unison.
The teachers had forewarned me about a young boy who they couldn't get interested in any elementary reading or letter recognition.
"I can name them all!" Declared this boy confidently pointing at the scene from an illustration from the book.
"Go on then!" I challenged him.
"Dioplodocus, Brachiosaurus and Pterandon!"
"Exactly right!" I replied very impressed, even most adults couldn't recognise all those dinosaurs unless they have 'Documentaries' on their satellite TV subscription!
"I know my dinosaurs!" Grinned the boy. He was right, he did!
"OK then," I said, "I bet you don't know what letter Pteranodon begins with?" I was confident he wouldn't know.
"P!" Replied the lad.
Later on as we read about Noah's adventure trying to rescue his Grandad from being eaten for lunch by some baby pteranodons in a cliff face nest, Noah's elf friend, Mr Littleplod whistled for the Naggledong fairies to take the visitors to their village. But in the story not only do the Naggledong hear the whistle but so does the king of the dinosaurs!
"Come quickly!" Whittered the tiny fairies in the story, "dragon comes, dragon bad!"
"That's not a dragon!" Piped up the lad confidently as I showed the picture to the group, "that's a T-Rex!"
"OK," I replied, certain I could catch him out with a spelling test, "how do you spell T-Rex then?"
The boy thought for a moment and slowly replied, "T, R, E, X."
He did know his dinosaurs!
You can book a place on one of Roberts two day Creative Writing Courses being held in the Yorkshire Dales this summer by contacting him through his website www.ninnylizard.com or see Yorkshire Times timeline of events for more information.
How to get children to read - Tap into their imagination..., 29th May 2012, 16:00 PM