While one might blame social media and the smartphone industry for driving kids away from the pleasure of reading, it can be dealt with by using the same technology that has alienated children from the joy of reading.
It’s important for educators to embrace edtech to rekindle children’s interest towards reading. When I say ‘embracing edtech’ I don’t just mean using apps, but also exploring new ways to cultivate a reading habit in today’s tech-savvy kids with the help of technology.
Before we start discussing on how edtech can help in this regard, it is crucial to understand why the process of reading is a turnoff for today’s children. They are not averse to stories, but they are often not patient enough to sit down and read multiple pages. Compared to so many cool games, viral videos, memes and everything else that is out there on the internet, reading can seem boring and uninteresting to the young ones. In order to get young learners to read, we need to make the process of reading cool and interesting.
Below are seven ways to make reading cool again:
1. Online reading sites with pictures: Since today’s children are so drawn towards the internet, it isn’t a bad idea to introduce them to online reading sites “Kids often not patient enough to sit down and read multiple pages.”that include pictures. The idea of being online and checking cool images in the form of a cohesive story will definitely sound appealing to kids. While it can be argued that such picture-heavy reading sites have very little text to read, I think it is a small baby step towards making children at least slightly more interested in reading. Websites like storylineonline.net offers video representation of stories with voiceovers and captions that can captivate the young ones instantly, and eventually make them excited to read.
2. Online book discussion clubs: Book discussion clubs and forums are great platforms for discovering the bookworm in you. And fortunately, there are some great online book discussion forums where kids can interact with like-minded children. Since a book discussion forum is a lot similar to a social media portal (as both allow you to share cool things, voice your opinion and make friends), kids will most likely fall in love with it in no time. Interacting with other kids about reading will expose them to a larger variety of books and will encourage them to read more. Scholastic provides a book discussion platform and I think it is a great place to introduce books to kids.
3. Audiobooks: I know! Listening to a story is not reading. However, listening to stories has similar effects as reading - it keeps you invested in a story, helps you build vocabulary and makes your imagination run wild. And that is why audiobooks are great ways to introduce kids to stories, which will later manifest into a hunger to read. While listening to audiobooks, one also learns a lot about pronunciations, accents and tone of voice that can’t be understood by reading.
4. Social media reading group: Reading a novel or a book is not the only way to cultivate the habit of reading. From short stories to articles and blogs, there is plenty of interesting written content out there on the internet. One can tap into this large pool of online written content and use it to attract students towards reading by forming a social media reading group.
For example: One can create a closed reading group on Facebook where a topic is assigned everyday, and at least three students have to share an interesting article about it. Once students have shared the articles, encourage the other members of the group to read by facilitating an online discussion about the topic. Such social media reading groups will not only prompt students to read, but it will also help familiarize them with the what’s happening in the world and help them form their opinions about it.
5. Reading with Memes: Memes are widely popular on the internet and most tweens/teens love it. How about we use memes as a means to encourage reading? They can be used as a tool to slowly introduce the students towards classic literature. For example: I stumbled upon a series of funny Shakespeare memes that can act as a great icebreaker in introducing his work to students.
Once you have generated enough curiosity about the author or main character of the book, try summarising the story of the book in the form of memes. Once students see that reading books can lead to something cool like generating memes, encourage them to read the book and create memes of their own. While it does sound like a lot of hard work to create memes out of literature, it gets fun and interesting once you start the process. Let’s make classic literature cool again.
6. Weekly audio podcast: Audio podcasts are fairly popular in the world of online learning. But not many know that it can also help in “Have an open discussion session about the book in the classroom.”cultivating the habit of reading among students. Every week, assign a chapter from a novel or a book to a student and ask them to create an audio podcast by reading it out loud and sharing their views on it. Once the last audio podcast on the book is done, have an open discussion session about the book in the classroom. In order to create a podcast, one would need to understand the flow of the story, and this will lead to every student reading the entire book, albeit at a slow pace. The excitement of creating their own podcast will inspire the students to read and fall in love with books forever.
7. Video representation of a story: Most kids find movies more exciting than books. So why not use their fascination for visual media to generate interest towards reading? Assign a book to read, then divide your class into four groups and ask each of the groups to come up with their own short video representation of the book. The emphasis is not on the quality of the video, but what they understood from the book. This fun assignment of creating their own movie is sure to get students pumped up towards reading.
Apart from the ideas listed above, there are plenty of other innovative ways to use edtech in cultivating the reading habit among children. Have you tried something different? Do share your methods of using technology to encourage kids to read and tell us how successful they were.
Let Ethan know below!