Have you ever wondered why we read? Why is it so important to infect young people with the reading bug? How is it achieved?
Often, when transmitting the value or importance of active reading, we insist on what it is for: reading to acquire specific knowledge on a subject, reading to learn how to do something… Or how it positively influences certain abilities: reading to improve academic performance, read to express ourselves better… And with this we forget that the main benefit of reading is simply that it is an inexhaustible source of personal satisfaction, an exciting experience.
Reading is the cheapest and healthiest form of leisure that we have within our reach. In this sense, teachers have to get students excited about reading and to discover, for themselves, everything that reading offers and can contribute to their personal and academic life.
But, until we reach this point of ideal satisfaction, we will have to use strategies and experiences that accompany our students on this fantastic journey. It is true that there is no magic formula that works for all students, but we do have a large number of resources within our reach that can be very useful.
Read, understand and speak
In recent years, various factors have changed the way we read, write, and perceive the world around us, and a determining factor is the full introduction of the Internet into everyday life and new forms of social communication. At first glance, this new paradigm seems magnificent! With just one click we access all kinds of opinions, but precisely this abundance often makes it difficult to differentiate between valuable and irrelevant data. For this reason, we have to learn to read critically, distinguish intentionality.
It is very important that we dedicate time in the classroom to talk about the books we read, since dialogue is an instrument for the cohesion of societies that is based on exchange as a fundamental tool for learning. The diversity of points of view enriches and transforms the experiences of the students and opens up new horizons for them.
In this sense, we propose the introduction of book gatherings in the classroom as a learning tool. Organizing gatherings, talking about books, makes the students who participate in them set learning objectives that otherwise they would not even have contemplated. Literary gatherings imply a shared understanding, promote critical reflection, participation, improve self-esteem and security, and allow the development of skills and abilities, such as adequate argumentation and public exposure of an idea, respect and acceptance of other opinions, slow and understanding listening, solidarity…
There is research that considers it essential that dialogic communicative experiences be based on universal classics, works that, due to their quality, have endured over time and that deal with the great issues that have traditionally concerned humanity, that transcend cultures and times. It is fair to say that its introduction from the first levels of teaching is important, but this does not mean that the possibility that the rest of the readings are worked from dialogical reflection must be excluded, given that it is an educational tool of one kind. great power and performance in the classroom.
And it is that we do not have to give up all the benefits that the shared reading of a book brings, simply because it is not included in the literary canon. The benefits of talking about books are many, and diverse: either from the review of the classics or from the hand of the most relevant authors and the authors of the current panorama, dialogue based on literature broadens the reading experience.
Reading aloud, an ally against school failure
Fortunately, there are already several pedagogical currents that claim the value of reading aloud as an instrument that facilitates a deep understanding of the text and that develops oral expression techniques that contribute to the emotional and academic growth of students. In fact, there are several organizations linked to the promotion of reading among children that prepare acts related to the activity, and involve schools and the family environment as a means to overcome linguistic disparities.
It is very common that, coinciding with the learning consolidation stage of the reading process, we stop practicing reading aloud. In many schools and also in the family environment, reading aloud is practiced only with those boys and girls who still cannot read, but this activity has a large number of more than obvious benefits that we often forget: it creates moments of intimacy between those who read and those who listen; strengthens affective bonds and helps to explore, express and share emotions; and it is a fundamental activity in human life, even more so when the ways of feeling and relating to the world are being built. But, in addition, as the aforementioned manifesto reminds us: it promotes conversation, attentive listening and the exchange of thoughts, memories, fantasies, experiences, fears, desires, feelings, doubts… In other words, it enables the serene encounter between the world of adults and that of children.
Benefits of reading aloud according to the manifesto
- It stimulates the activity of the brain areas related to narrative comprehension and the creation of mental images, a fact that directly affects the learning of oral language, reading and writing.
- It influences the cognitive development of boys and girls by giving them the opportunity to listen, think, feel, ask, answer, associate…, that is, to put into play the different capacities of the mind.
- It has a significant impact on language development thanks to the fact that it introduces children to the territory of the mother tongue in a slow and loving way: unfamiliar words appear charged with meaning and emotion, the structure and conventions of the written language they become familiar thanks to the stories read over and over again, the correspondences between the sounds of the mother tongue and the spellings that represent them are revealed little by little…
- It favors a better understanding of the stories thanks to the mediation of experienced readers who act as models and guides.
- It makes boys and girls act as readers even if they don’t know how to read, at the same time that it encourages literary language to become part of their lives, stimulating the imagination, interest in stories and narrative thinking.