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How important is it to encourage your children to read?

Monday, February 15, 2016, 18:03 GMT+7

In early 2016, a book street was established in downtown Ho Chi Minh City in order to encourage citizens, especially youngsters, to read.

The street, located on Nguyen Van Binh Street in District 1, is meant to nurture a reading culture through various activities and highlight the value and significance of books.

Some foreigners have shared their point of view on the importance of reading, as well as their personal experience to encourage their children to fall in love with books.

Australian Dr. Mike Turner, chair of the Business Department at Broward College Vietnam

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In Australia, the government supports free libraries in each suburb (district) where children can read books or borrow them and take them home. This is a free service and children can borrow up to five books and keep them for two weeks.

The libraries are stocked with books for all ages and all interests. Many children have a library card and use it to borrow books. This means that they can read as many books as they want for free. With the price of books being quite expensive in Australia, there is no need for them to purchase if they use a library.

I encourage my children to read by reading books with them or to them depending on their age. Nothing encourages a child more than reading with mum or dad. A lot of parents say they are too busy to read with their children, but they are doing themselves and their children a disservice. Parents must understand that reading with their kids is an investment in their child’s future. It is also important to introduce them to books that are going to expand their knowledge base, increase their vocabulary and broaden their horizons.

Chuck Lopez, co-founder at The Communication Training Company in Ho Chi Minh City

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Books give both children and young people an opportunity to experience something from another person's point of view and to stimulate creativity which bolsters learning as well as teaching a child how to enjoy quality time, usually in solitude. Reading can be the building blocks of communication. I often encourage my students, at any level, to find subjects that appeal to them. Then I suggest finding books that fit those subjects or topics. Give the student the power to determine what they feel they are interested in reading. This promotes engagement. 

I believe it is also important to hold the book in your hand. The sense of touch helps create a more memorable experience. Electronic devices nowadays provide us with easy access to books online, yet we still need to create an experience and feeling that can only come with holding a book in your hands.

I think we, as adults, must set the example to our kids. How can I possibly motivate my child or ask my students to read if I don’t do it myself? We must share our experiences in the art of reading, beginning with the most basic activity, how to find a book. We need to show students how to incorporate their current fields of study and reading into a useful application for life.

Eric Asato, career consultant at RMIT University Vietnam

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I'm from America and was lucky that my mother read to me every day as a child and took me to the library on a monthly basis to borrow books. The local county government funded the library system so I was lucky to live in a county that had the resources to keep the library stocked with books. My primary school and middle school also had a library, but it was more exciting to go with my mother to the county library. I really think parents are the key to encouraging youngsters to read from a young age.

One of my fondest memories was in the 5th & 6th grade when my teachers held a 'Night of the Notables'. Each student chose a biography to read and then we dressed up as our Notable character, made a storyboard of our life's accomplishments, and parents would interview us to guess who we were. It encouraged role-playing and interaction with parents, which kept all the students engaged. It was my first introduction to biographies and became my favorite genre of books throughout junior high and high school (7th -12th grade). Allowing children to choose what they read will encourage them to read for fun, rather than forcing them to read about a topic they are not interested in.

Brent Richard Kurkoski, former English language educator at RMIT University Vietnam

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There are multiple advantages to reading for children. First of all, a child develops the skill of learning new knowledge independently through reading. They become better and faster at it over time as they begin to seek information interesting to them. Secondly, children see their place in this world via the absorption of information and growth of understanding. They realize that there are many views to the same idea, which often differ. This facilitates tolerance of other people’s opposing views to that of the child.

I often take my children to the bookstore and let them choose something that interests them. I allow it to be fun and always guarantee we will leave with some books in hand. Also, I read to them. This connects children to parents in a very positive way. At home, when they bring home books and homework from school, I ask what they're reading and how it applies to their assignment. This is a way that they can see the relationship to the books they read and the things they need to do. 

Do not force children to read in a way that makes the experience uncomfortable or unpleasant. A better way is to simply set a period of time out each day when the children "must" read, but allow them to choose what they read. Be comfortable of the material chosen at first. Over time, the adult can begin to direct the child to more academic and thought-provoking readings, when appropriate. But really any reading is good, so just letting the child choose freely pays big dividends in the child's enjoyment of reading. Soon the child will discover reading on their own through self-exploration and their own curiosity.

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