Reading for pleasure refers to reading that we to do of our own free will anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading. It also refers to reading that having begun at someone else’s request we continue because we are
interested in it. It typically involves materials that reflect our own choice, at a time and place that suits us.
…let me make three brief suggestions. First, let's not rely on the idea that providing a computer to all villages will solve the equality problem. A few books, a free lunch and a well trained, caring teacher who shows up every day are worth more than a dozen computers. Second, we should support efforts to decrease testing in general. And we should advocate for exams that measure learning rather than short term memory. Finally, all children should be given opportunities to write about things that matter to them. If we give them opportunities to share the resulting stories, essays and poems with an audience that consists of more than their teacher, that is even better.
None of these ideas are new…But …real educational reform is not going to happen quickly, so if you've got children, you've got your work cut out for you…it makes sense to start with reading. First, read to your children; then later read with them, and finally and always show them you also are a reader.
Reading is important. Books are important. Good books are important. They help to develop basic and advanced literacy skills, thinking skills, value systems, critical and logical faculties, imagination and creativity… The list is probably endless. If we want what’s best for our children, then we want them to learn to love reading. And so we need a culture which enables and encourages that love.
But if what we have is a school system which reduces reading to a set of mechanical decoding skills, then fewer of our children will learn to love reading. And if those children who …love of reading then find that both libraries and bookshops are filled with the same narrow range of books, which – if nothing is done – is more and more likely to be the literary equivalent of junk food, then how is that love of reading ever going to develop? And what will that mean for our society in forty years’ time? It doesn’t bear thinking about – but we have to think about it, and we have to do something.