Inculcating love for reading

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By Gretchen Varela

Breathing Gratitude

Thursday, May 1, 2014


“NO! I don’t want to read!” declared my then nine-year-old son, Gabe, three summers ago when I asked him to start reading chapter books.

I was very frustrated with his response because I am a strong believer in the importance of inculcating love for reading among children. When they were babies and toddlers, I made it a part of my children’s bedtime routine to read them stories. So I thought it would come naturally for them to love books, but I was wrong.

I had researched and even asked friends about how to get kids to start—and eventually love—reading. One logical advice was to find books on his interests. During that time, my son was interested in airplanes so I bought him all sorts of books on that topic—but nothing worked.

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So during that particular summer break, I patiently combed through aisles of bookstores with him, hoping to find that one book that would develop his love for reading.

It was a process of trial and error and we had bought quite a lot of chapter books that we thought were the ones to interest him. Sadly, they all ended up on our shelves, unread.

That didn’t stop me from persisting though.

One day, we came across “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl. He picked it up and looked at the front and back covers.

It was an interesting story for him as he had watched the two movie versions of this story. He then decided that this was the one. And I was like, finally, this is the book that would open the gates to the wonderful world of reading for him! And thankfully it was!

That summer, he read Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” (which is a sequel to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), “James and the Giant Peach,” “The Magic Finger,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

After these books came the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series of books by Jeff Kinney, “Bone” series by Jeff Smith, “Max Flash” series by Jonny Zucker, “Seven Wonders” series by Peter Lerangis, “Manga Bible” series, among many others.

It gives me great joy seeing him enjoying reading, and reaping the rewards that come with it. He has also been very expressive about how grateful he is for the gift of books.

Like Gabe, I look forward to unlocking this precious love for reading among the students in our school. This summer, Lamblight Catholic School teachers were fortunate to have attended training on the Workshop Approach, which produces authentic readers and writers.

The training was conducted by the team of Keys School Manila, headed by its school directress, Didi Manahan. The rest of the team included teacher Joe Sibayan, curriculum developer and academic coordinators Stephanie Barredo and Patch Feliciano. Keys School Manila is one of the most successful progressive schools in the country.

My son’s favorite quote is by Mark Twain, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” I am happy that he has turned into a reading advocate!

We are both challenged to entice his little sister to learn to love reading. And like the case of Gabe, I know that it only takes one book to unlock the doors for her. Until we find that one book, we will patiently be searching, respecting that just like her brother, it will come at the perfect time.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 01, 2014.

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