BY SHARON SIBINDI
AWARD-WINNING author and teacher Bryony Rheam has urged parents to encourage young children to read at home in order to foster a culture of reading.
Rheam, who has over the last few years researched on the reading culture, told NewsDay Life & Style that she discovered that many of her pupils came from families without a reading culture.
“I started reading widely on the subject and also asked the pupils themselves what they had read as children and what their parents had read to them. I was shocked to find that more than half could not remember
anyone reading to them at all. I was also shocked to find out how many of them had televisions or play stations in their rooms,” she said.
The This September Sun author said although she taught at a private school, she discovered that many of the pupils had suffered emotional neglect.
“Some hardly saw their parents at all and were looked after by a maid. A couple were even left alone in the house for more than one night, with just the maid or gardener for company and a driver to bring them to
school,” she said.
Rheam said it was important for parents to make reading a shared experience at home in order to generate children’s interest in reading.
“That is why it is very important to read to your children. It shows them that you want to share something with them and that you are able to give them your time. Many parents do not have time to share with their
children,” she said, adding that the lack of such a culture can never be compensated by toys, games and DVDs.
Rheam said reading to one’s children creates a special bond.
“Very young children love books where certain words are repeated or they have to look under the flaps for animals or things. Older children like books with funny characters or where they have to think about
something, like solving a mystery,” she said.