By Steve Ryan – Teaching children how to read is a fundamental principle of every school district, teacher, and classroom. Children need to know HOW to read. Undergraduate teacher education programs actively promote reading within their curriculum, just look at Marquette’s Hartman Center.
Reading is critical to the success of any one individual and as such needs to be taught, promoted, and encouraged within our students starting at a young age.
Technology can help to promote reading, especially as we become more accepting of how we define reading. Our students have grown up in a digital world and as such are active in front of the screen of computers and other mobile devices. Thus, they are constantly reading something.
Whether that be email, text messages, IMs, blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook posts, or anything else electronic, our students are still reading. We need to recognize the fact that reading can be more than just the touch and feel of the paper held together in a book binding. Encouraging our students to engage in a variety of formats through reading will only better prepare them for the life that lies ahead.
Our students are exposed to books in the traditional print format or electronically. Most of our “digital natives” prefer the electronic format of a book more so than others. I know I prefer an eBook because of the features built in. The reader can manipulate the text far easier by making annotations, looking up unknown words in a dictionary, or adding special bookmarks to return for a later review. The reading process becomes much more intuitive because all of the resources are built into the electronic book, as opposed to putting down the hard copy and seeking information elsewhere.
Teachers can encourage their students to read by telling them what they are reading and what they have read. The connection between the teacher and the students can certainly promote an active reading environment. In the more traditional sense of reading novels and other books, I’ve recommended Shelfari to teachers within my own district as a means to foster that connection. Shelfari allows a user to input their own collection of what they have read, what they will read, and what books they are currently reading. And, a user can add their own reviews of these books. This website and online environment will only assist in fostering reading as personal recommendations become common as some students don’t always know what to read on a regular basis.
All in all, technology is making reading much easier and available because the access will not be an issue as books can be downloaded and accessed directly from the Internet. The ubiquity of reading will continue to grow as more and more individuals have their own mobile, handheld devices and schools adopt new methods of acceptable reading to include blogs and newsfeeds.
Technology will only help our students have access to reading and promote it throughout the process.