Reading – the foundation of creative writing
What happens if your child just doesn’t want to read? Or what if your child does read, voraciously even, and yet this doesn’t seem to help in his or her composition or comprehension? Is reading alone enough? Faeza Sirajudin from Creative Horizons explains what you can do to help your child reap the benefits of reading...
There are so many benefits to reading. So many articles have been written and so much research has gone into showing just how much reading can contribute to a child’s academic growth. To state all those benefits again in this article would be pointless and unnecessary – I don’t have to convince you that reading is important.
Most would consider reading to be a solitary activity. But perhaps, to make your child read more and to be able to get the best from her reading, we have to think of reading as a social activity. There is a lot you can do together with your child to improve her reading experience.
First of course, you would have to read the same books as your kids. (I’m sure this won’t take very long. And you’d be surprised how interesting and engaging some children’s books can be!) Then, here are a few ideas you can try to make reading a family activity:
(1) Discuss the plot of the story with your child. Conduct a simple quiz about events and actions and reward your child with each correct answer (with anything from a pat on the back to a sweet treat.) If you have a big family, this quiz could be conducted like a game show, which involves the whole family. It’s a great chance for family bonding. You could even ask the kids to write their own quiz questions to challenge each other. As part of the quiz, you could also write out specific events in the story on individual pieces of paper and get your child/children to sequence the events according to the book. Activities such as this which focus on plot get the child to pay attention to the book more and increase her critical thinking abilities. Also, it makes reading a whole lot more fun!
(2) A lot of parents are concerned with vocabulary acquisition and vocabulary lists. But memorizing big words and colourful phrases without awareness of their context could actually do more harm than good. Use reading-related activities to help your child wake up her sleeping vocabulary and increase her active vocabulary. Pick interesting words written in the book and write them down on index cards. Leave this index cards hidden around the house. Now its time for a treasure hunt. Get your kids to hunt for these hidden words. After they find it, they have to locate it in the book and make their own sentences with it to receive a little treat.
Alternatively, write a random sentence on the index card that uses an interesting word from the book but leave that word out. When your child finds the index card, she has to try to guess the missing word that can be found in the book. Trust me – after such exciting activities, your child is not going to forget the words learnt or how to use them.
(3) Reading is also a fantastic springboard for creative writing! Ask your child what she would have done different if she was one of the characters in the story. Ask her to write down what she would have done and how that would have changed the story. Or ask her to write an alternative ending to the story which might be happier, more tragic or more unexpected. Depending on the book, you might also encourage your child to write a prologue (what happens before chapter 1) or an epilogue (what happens 5 years later). The point here is simply to be inspired by ideas from the book to create ideas of one’s own. Let your child write freely and creatively. Don’t stifle creativity or turn the activity into a chore by checking accuracy and making the child do corrections. Leave that for a much later date. Take all the stories written by your child and compile it into a book that she will treasure forever.
Next, a list of books to embark on your reading journey…
Here is a list of books that you might want to consider to embark on this reading journey with your child:
- The Smelliest Day at the Zoo by Alan Rusbridger
- Loudmouth Louis by Anne Fine
- Wings Of Icarus by Jenny Oldfield
- The Story Thief by Andrew Fusek Peters
- The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith
- Shoeshine Girl by Clyde Robert Bulla
- The Van Gogh Café by Cynthis Rylant
- The Secret Service Mystery by Cam Jansen
- How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Flemming
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet
- The Griffith and Oliver Pie by Michael Lawrence
Reading does not end when you’ve read the last word in the book. Active reading is a much more complex activity and by regularly doing this activities with different books, your child will see that reading is fun and inspiring. Books become keys that open the doors to family fun and individual inspiration. If you find that you cannot really keep up with the activities yourself or all of the reading, then look around for courses that will help your child become an active reader. Creative Horizons conducts Active Reading courses in the June and December holidays.
For more articles on reading and writing for your child, see: