London - Whether it’s Roald Dahl or JK Rowling, most parents try to get children reading and drag them away from computer screens.
But now one British headmaster thinks he has found a way to turn any child into a full-time bookworm – by working out what type of readers they are. English teacher Andrew Barnard has devised a set of categories to help families understand and support young people’s relationship with books.
He believes there are eight types of readers – ranging from “relishers”, who consume up to 40 books a year, to “regretters”, who want to read but find it difficult due to problems such as dyslexia. Most worrying for parents is the “rechanneler”, a child who used to love books but has been diverted by devices and now spends more time online playing games and visiting social media sites.
Barnard, head of Eagle House School in Sandhurst, Berkshire, said: “Children tend to fall into different categories when it comes to reading and identifying these can help parents encourage and support their children’s reading.”
The other categories are “regulars” who read about 10 to 15 books a year, “rushers” who read in bursts, “reluctants” who read five to six books a year, “realists” who only read non-fiction and “rejecters” who read only if they are forced to.
Barnard has developed a separate strategy for each category, which teachers and parents can use to get children to rekindle their love of reading.
“The longer children have been away from reading, the harder it can be to get them to enjoy it again. As a strategy, parents can consider trying to use online time as a reward for reading time. It may be that eBooks are an incentive,” he said.
He also advises parents of voracious readers – or relishers – to “keep an eye” on their internet use and encourage children to spend more time reading if their interest in books “appears to be threatened”.
Type: “Can’t drag them away” readers, voracious consumers of books all year round, 30 to 40 books a year and up. These children will be high achievers, because of the depth of focus and concentration they develop, along with the command and understanding of language, and the awareness of ideas and knowledge gleaned from books.
Strategy: Most relishers remain avid book readers for life, but keep an eye on their online time and be ready to encourage book time if it appears to be threatened. Tablets and eReaders are a good way to keep the enthusiasm going as books can be downloaded immediately.
Type: Like books, but other things take priority a lot of the time, so they read about 10 to 15 books a year.
Strategy: One strategy for increasing reading in this group is by making sure compelling and popular reads are offered to them more often. A visit to the bookshop or library is a good way of keeping up to date with new books.
Type: Charge through books in bursts – such as holidays but not term time, or when a new “must-read” series like The Hunger Games comes out – with not much in between bursts.
Strategy: They have the potential to be regulars, but need encouragement from teachers and parents.
Type: Read books only occasionally, up to five or six a year. They may find a series compelling, but struggle to read anything by another author.
Strategy: This group sometimes just need to be reminded how much they love reading by putting a really good book in front of them, or by reading a chapter to them. Promoting fiction and making recommendations are key for this group.
Type: Will only like to read non-fiction, which is positive but lacks the concentration demanded in reading novels or stories. They find imaginative tasks such as creative writing difficult.
Strategy: These children should be encouraged to read books that appeal to non-fiction lovers, such as science fiction and books with a historical theme.
Type: Read books only if forced to, because they have to for school work. These children may be undiagnosed dyslexics, or may simply never have developed a love of books.
Strategy: Audio books on car journeys, instead of gaming or online devices, is one potential strategy for this group. There are a growing number of graphic novels that can be a way in to reading for those who will not read a regular novel.
Type: Used to love reading books, but have been diverted by devices and now put the time and effort they used to put into books into games, social media when older, or other time online. Often they feel no empathy for “children’s” books and are unable to engage with adult fiction as they go through their teenage years.
Strategy: The longer children have been away from reading, the harder it can be to get them to enjoy it again. As a strategy, parents can consider trying to use online time as a reward for reading time. It may be that eBooks are an incentive with this group.
Type: Wish they could read or read more easily, but can’t because of issues such as visual impairment, disability or dyslexia.
Strategy: Audio books can be ideal options for the regretter as well as graphic novels and certain eBook formats.– Daily Mail