How to Stimulate an Interest in Reading Books for Enjoyment
Reading for Enjoyment
Reading for Enjoyment Before Retirement
For much of my life, I did not have a great interest in reading for enjoyment.
Although reading comic books was a pleasure in grade school, I never really went to the library to borrow many books. Playing outside with my friends was more important and enjoyable.
My middle and high school years were spent on farms. Mom and dad had a lot of books in their library, but I can only remember using it one summer to read some of the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe.
Reading became a chore and not very pleasant when I was attending high school and college. Since I was majoring in the sciences, taking notes and outlining what I read made reading seem like drudgery. Except for All Quiet on the Western Front, I disliked other novels assigned in my history and English classes.
When I was in college, there was a ton of required reading in a Contemporary British and American Literature course which I took during my sophomore year. Because I never learned to read for pleasure when younger, I disliked the course and did not get much out of it.
Up until I retired from federal government work service in 2007, I did hardly any reading for enjoyment. Watching sports on TV and listening to talk radio was much more enjoyable.
Reading for Enjoyment After Retirement
When I retired from government work in 2007, you probably could have counted on two hands the number of books and novels I had read in my life for pleasure.
My reading habits changed, however, after I started teaching English in Thailand. Inspired by my students and teaching colleagues, I started reading the works of Mark Twain and taught my students how to read extracts from books like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
I also started reading classic British novels of the 19th century. In books by Dickens and the Bronte sisters, I could readily identify with characters and plots. Reading was now a lot of fun. It also stimulated me to learn more about England's history.
Out of curiosity, I also started reading some of the books in my parents' bookcase which I could still remember from childhood. These included Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I am now hooked on reading books for pleasure and plan on reading as many of the classics as I can.
How to Stimulate an Interest in Reading for Enjoyment
I hope readers will not make my mistakes and instead begin reading for pleasure at a much earlier age. There are different good ways to stimulate an interest in reading. They are as follows.
1. Tell Stories to Children at an Early Age.
All kids like listening to interesting and exciting stories. At the age of two or three or perhaps younger, children are ready to listen to fairy tales or to look at pictures while stories are being told. I employed this strategy when teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to fifth-graders in Thailand. It greatly stimulated interest in reading in my classes.
2. Encourage Kids to Be Curious and Imaginative.
People who love reading for pleasure do it to satisfy their curiosity and imagination. Words on a page are translated into images to fulfill curiosity and imagination. At the age of one or two, you could give kids books with incomplete pictures and encourage them to finish drawing the pictures and tell a story.
3. Let Children Have Many Playmates.
In their play, kids will role-play stories based on their experiences. This play will later encourage children to read books.
4. Encourage Kids to Develop Interests and Hobbies.
If children cultivate interests and hobbies when young, they will more likely want to read books. These books might be about sports, music, drawing or collections.
5. Try New Experiences When Young
When children are young, they should be allowed to try new experiences. These experiences could be in the form of playing a sport, learning a musical instrument, being active in churches or participating in the Cub Scouts, Brownies or other clubs.
At a later age, young people should have the experience of working during the summer or doing domestic and foreign travel. Based on their own experiences, young people will be curious to read about the experiences of others.
6. Keep a Diary.
By keeping a diary in which you record the daily activities in your life, you most probably will want to read the diaries of other people.
7. Have Friends and Talk with People.
Through conversations with friends, you will be exposed to new ideas and books which will satisfy your curiosity and imagination.
8. Watching Movies
There are many movies on television and in the cinema which are based on books. By watching a good movie, you could be stimulated to read the book from which the movie is adapted.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn