Get Book Smart

by Eddie Rayner

There have been many studies conducted into the benefits of reading for children, whether it is in school or at home. Perhaps one of the most interesting to have been published in recent years was carried out by scientists from the University of Edinburgh and Kings College London, and published in the Child Development Journal.

The research results suggest that if children have better than average reading skills by the age of seven, this can positively impact their academic potential during high school. The study concluded that reading teaches children to use their imagination, something that in turn helps with both abstract and rational thinking when studying STEM subjects such as mathematics and science.

Samar Murad, Principal of the International School of Creative Science, Muwaileh, explains: “Whilst the majority of young people today consider themselves to be ‘digital natives’, and may prefer to consume information from a screen, research has found that students’ performance in school tends to suffer if they only read digitally.

“Indeed, researchers found that printed texts, longer than a page in length, were actually easier for students to understand and retain information from. They contributed this to the disruptive effects that scrolling through a web page has on understanding. We agree that reading the printed word retains a certain tangibility that can’t necessarily be completely replicated through online scrolling, and that this is true for young people of all ages.

“At BEAM we work hard to instil all our students with a love of reading books, both within lessons and outside of the classroom. For example, we run the BUG CLUB reading programme at all levels of our schools. Developed by Pearson UK, the BUG CLUB combines an online reading world with print, and assessment tools, and its overarching aim is to make books fun and enjoyable. The programme’s blended approach is suitable for all ages and is particularly effective for students who might be a bit behind their peers in terms of language development.

Building a habit of reading at home not only introduces children to and instils a love of classic stories, but it also means they start to associate reading with relationship building and quality family time, something that online reading or TV watching does not offer in quite the same way.”

Here are some pointers to encourage a love of reading:

  1. Set up book clubs in schools (such as the BUG CLUB)
  2. Run a class-wide reading competition
  3. Create a dedicated reading area in the classroom
  4. Instigate bedtime stories, making sure children read each night
  5. Talk about what children are reading, including what their favourite parts of the book were
  6. Introduce children to different genres of books to discover what interests them most
  7. Celebrate Book Week and World Book Day at school
  8. Invite authors to school and let them interact with students