Why Don’t Children Read More? (part 1)

Whose Fault is it that children don’t read?

Why don’t children read more? It’s a question I’m always asking myself and never finding an answer to. When your job is to help children improve their writing and reading comprehension skills, you quite often find yourself hitting a wall (not literally, obviously) because they don’t read enough. Sometimes I feel like sinking to my knees and saying, “Please – please – please just READ” But at the end of the day, is it their fault that they don’t?

A few years ago I worked with one particular boy who didn’t ever read. I kept trying to tempt him with little snippets from books, but nothing took his fancy, until one day he suddenly said, “Miss, this one is brilliant. Can we read some more of it?” I explained that I didn’t have the whole book, but told him that he would be able to get it from his local library. He was a little concerned about the cost, and didn’t quite believe me when I told him that it was free, but he agreed to go.

The following Monday morning he came to find me to tell me what an exciting place the library was. “I’ve never seen so many books to choose from, Miss, and you can take out lots of books in case you don’t like one of them, and it’s all free and everything.”

Of course, if he went these days he’d probably find it closed.

In a city the size of Birmingham, you’d think gaining access to books would be easy. Not so, as I discovered over the Christmas holidays. We are getting a new multi-million pound building for our library as the current one is so out-dated. It doesn’t open till September though, but the “current” one is as good as closed – all of the reference sections have been packed up ready for the move, so if you want to do some research, as I do, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait another 6 months.

The nearby town of Sutton Coldfield doesn’t have a library either. It closed over a year ago for refurbishment. There are no signs of any refurb happening, and no indication that it will ever reopen.

My local library used to open 5 ½ days a week, with two late nights. It’s now open 5 days, but closes at 5 o’clock each day – no good for parents who would like to take their children to the library after work.

If we make it so difficult for children to gain access to books, is it any wonder that so many of them don’t want to make the effort.

Is this the only reason that children don’t read? Of course not, and I’ll talk about other reasons in a future post, but it really doesn’t help.