Reading Skills part 2

Today reading is becoming a more important skill that every student must have. Some of you may ask why do I write about a fundamental skill that has been existed for hundreds of years or more? What I mean here is NOT knowing how to read but the ability to read comprehensively. The fact is today’s college students are required to read much more than in the past but only a few could do. That is why their knowledge is often shallow and cannot solve complex problems required for most of the works in this fast-changing time.

Based on several global studies, today’s students do not read well but only glance through short articles and consider it reading. Many students spend time reading Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or WeChat etc. but cannot even complete a chapter in the textbook. There is an issue in many universities that many students do not have the comprehensive knowledge as in the past, especially in certain fields that require a lot of reading such as Literature, Philosophy, History, Sociology, and Psychology etc.

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Reading is a habit that should be taught early. Of course, cchildren are taught how to read when they are very young. Everyone wants their children to grow up to read well. But what they are taught is mostly knowing how to read, NOT the ability to read at a deeper level to build the “insight knowledge” or comprehensive reading. After all, childhood reading skills have been used to predict success not just in school, but also later in life. Children with the ability to read at a deeper level usually grow up more successful in their professions. A Princeton study in 1968 found that a majority of university professors and scholars (82%) were all comprehensive readers. The author wrote: “Reading comprehension is an active process dealing with a complex process like decoding, understanding, and various cognitive abilities, and metacognition. These special skills allow them to explore, discover, and organize their thought to understand the context at a much deeper level and developing profound knowledge.”

It is not difficult to get a child to read. But fostering comprehensive reading where they learn, explore, discover and develop a deeper knowledge can be done by simply having many books available at home. The Princeton study suggested that every family should have a small library to raising better readers. The author found there was a strong correlation between the number of books in a household and children’s overall educational success. In other words, children whose parents have many books in the house have a big advantage in school and later in their profession. This is because when children are constantly exposed to books, knowledge becomes a normal part of their lives. The author wrote: “We survey over three thousand successful people in their fields, and found that 82% of them were growing up from households that had a lot of books. 76% of them said that their parents often read to them when they were very young so when they grew up, they always read more. Eventually, books and knowledge have become part of their lives.”

Since children always look up to their parents. If the parents read books, their children also read too. Therefore, the best way to raise a good reader is to read more books yourself. The author suggested: “But you must do it where your children can see you. If your children think that reading is something adults do, they will do it too. Modeling what to do is the best ways to teach any behavior, because kids love to copy adults, especially their parents. Even when children were very young (1 to 3 years), parents can read aloud to them. Making reading a family activity has several benefits. Children not only learn to love reading because it is something they do with the people they love, but they also learn how to pronounce the words they see on the page and pick up reading fluency skills, too.”

“When the children are 3 to 5 years old, parents could ask them to read books aloud. By listening to their children read, parents can help to correct their spelling and reading comprehension. At that age, most children may think of books as sources of fun and enjoy doing that with their parents, but may not know the variety of books and topics. However, when children begin to ask questions about the content of the books or the world around them, parents must pay attention. At that moment, their brain begins to develop the ability to inquire, so they become curious as their intellectual ability is developing so parents need to find books on the topic of their interests to help them to learn more.”

The author wrote: “As a parent, you can foster a reading habit by setting out a time each day to share a book with your child. You need to pay attention to their interest and their questions because it has a significant influence on their learning later. What they learn, how they learn, and what they will learn are mostly developed during that critical time. It is important to try your best not to skip a day, even when you are busy or tired, you need to remember that you do not want your children to lose interest in learning by not answering them. Their intellectual and curiosity requires an answer and explanation as it will impact their future development.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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