What are the ways to cultivate reading habits among students?

- by Zachary Cassidy
Kuching, Sarawak

It is a fact that students today do not read much compared to those in the past. Since reading brings forth a lot of benefits such as to expand one’s knowledge, improve one’s language skills and boost one’s creativity, youngsters should be persuaded to develop a love of reading.

What are the ways to help students cultivate reading habits? In my opinion, there a quite a number of ways and stated below are some of the best.

Firstly, reading facilities have to be set up by the government so that students can have easier access to reading materials. For example, a public library can be built opposite a school compound. It can also be constructed in housing areas, especially those with large populations. A wide selection of books, magazines and newspapers should be made available. For visitors’ comfort, it is a good idea for a library to be equipped with facilities like air conditioners and chairs and tables that are of high quality. It is also important for a library to have an quiet environment which is conducive to reading and learning. The adequate facilities and the appropriate environment will undoubtedly attract students to spend their leisure time in the library. With a wide selection of reading materials, students are able to further expand their knowledge about what is taught in class as well as to learn something which is excluded from their school syllabus. This can help improve their academic performance as most examination papers nowadays include HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) questions. In order to answer such questions well, students need to have extra knowledge apart from what is being taught in school.

Secondly, parents play a vital role in shaping their children’s attitude and interest. It is advisable for parents to teach their children the advantages of reading. Parents can start off by reading stories to their children in bed and buy books for them to read, besides bringing them to libraries. It is also important that parents set a good example by reading frequently so as to let their children follow. It is wise for parents to create a library or a study at home. Or, at least, help their children start a collection of books, especially those that are about their interests. Gradually, children get a library of books of their favourite topics and even authors. That can certainly help nurture a love of reading in them.

Thirdly, students can also be encouraged to read when schools organise essay writing competitions. Generous prizes that are up for grabs can be offered so as to attract more participants. Besides attractive prizes, winners will also have the opportunities to represent their schools in interschool or even interstate competitions. Participation certificates will also be presented to all participants, who will also obtain bonus marks that are favourable to their applications for further studies in universities or colleges later. Students who intend to take part will definitely read model essays to improve their essay writing skills. There will also be a necessity for reading when they search for information related to the topics, if they are provided in the contest notice.

In a nutshell, reading habits can be cultivated among students with the right methodology. With so many attractions in this IT era, it may be a challenge persuading youngsters today to take up reading as a pastime. Despite that being said, it is definitely possible, when adequate encouragement and emphasis are given. I look forward to the day when reading will once again be a ubiquitous hobby among students, who will most probably grow up to be intelligent, creative and wise citizens of our country.