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The Importance of Reading and How Parents Can Support Their Children

The Importance of Reading and How Parents Can Support Their Children

In preparation for Book Week at Network International School, Tr Mandie spoke at the latest Parents’ Coffee Morning and talked about the importance of reading and how parents can support their children.

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

Benefits of reading

Reading helps you discover the world: Reading is a gateway to learning anything about everything. It helps you discover new things and educate yourself in any area of life you are interested in. You can find a book on just about any subject you can imagine, dive in and start learning. Your child can learn about their interests (and even themselves) through reading things they enjoy.

Reading develops your imagination and creativity: When we watch television or a movie, all the information is given to us on the screen – there’s nothing we need to imagine. A book in its pure form is just words on a page, and our minds have to do the work, imagining the words coming to life. This does wonders to develop our creativity and imagination.

The Importance of Reading

Reading improves vocabulary and communication: Giving your child access to a world of words is one of the best ways to improve their vocabulary and enhance their spelling skills. New knowledge that’s gained through enjoyment has a tendency to stick and doesn’t even feel like work! Both their written and spoken communication abilities can be improved through regular reading.

Reading helps with building a good self-image and playing well with others: Learning new concepts, discovering exciting places and understanding others’ perspectives is key to building a well-rounded self-image – not to mention the self-esteem boost from being able to read well! It’s at early ages that children can be most easily influenced, and a positive reading experience can do wonders to help them form a positive perception of themselves. Reading also has social benefits. Children can discuss stories with others and form friendships over shared interests.

Reading improves concentration and reduces stress: Not only does reading focus your attention entirely on the task at hand, it also immerses you in the information, improving concentration and memory of what you read. Getting completely involved in a book can help us relax and feel calm.

Active vs passive reading

Learning to read is the first step. From there, your child will start to increase comprehension and become an active reader. The use of appropriate reading strategies is essential in learning and in life. So, what is the difference between a “passive” unskilled reader and an “active” skilled reader?

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

The passive reader: Have you ever read a page in a book and not taken in anything you’ve just read? Or caught yourself reading and re-reading the same paragraph without actively acknowledging the words? This is passive reading without any meaningful engagement.

The active reader: Active readers engage with what they’re reading. They read with an open and questioning mind, and they stop to think more about what things mean. Here are some ideas, as set out by Miami University, of how skilled active readers read:

  • They can predict what will happen next in a story using clues they gain from reading.
  • They create questions about the main idea, message or plot.
  • They monitor understanding of the sequence, context or characters.
  • They stop to clarify parts of the text that have confused them. They connect events in the text to prior knowledge or experience.

Problems with reading are often identified or can start to become an issue in Year 3. It is at this stage that children need to start actively engaging with the material they read. They are required to find information through active reading. An example would be reading something with comprehension for school. Without active reading skills, children can’t make sense of how the information they’re reading connects with anything. If they’re required to compare two different sources of information, and their active reading skills aren’t starting to develop more fully, they will struggle to comprehend how to complete the task.

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

The importance of reading comprehension: Reading comprehension is the ability to understand a written passage of text. It’s the bridge between the passive reader and active reader, and the crucial link to effective reading – essential for a rich academic, professional and personal life. Reading comprehension involves several different processes, such as imagining what the words describe, understanding the context of the book and being able to answer questions related to a text. Think about a book you’ve read before, and then try to summarise what the book was about. If your child can answer questions about a book or text, explain important events that happened in a story and have an opinion about why the events may have occurred, they’re displaying comprehension skills. Without reading and comprehension skills, children will struggle to grow academically, as reading is the foundation to all academic subjects such as History, Mathematics and Science. It also influences your child’s ability to write. Reading fluency is also a very important part of reading comprehension, as readers who spend their time decoding words often lose the understanding of what is being read. This can include paying more attention, auditory analysis, sound blending, memory, processing speed and visual perception. A lack of strong reading comprehension skills affects a child’s success at school, as academic progress depends on understanding, analysing and applying information gathered through reading.

How to help your child’s reading comprehension

If your child needs some help improving their reading comprehension, encourage active reading by focusing on these strategies:

Reading with purpose: Active reading encourages understanding through engagement with the text. If your child is interested in the material, they will be far more likely to involve themselves in learning about it and become a more active reader.

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

Learning vocabulary: It’s very easy to lose track of what you’re reading if you don’t understand some of the words, but we all tend to skim over words we don’t know on occasion without taking the time to look them up. Learning new vocabulary will help your child get a deeper understanding of what they’re reading. Ask your child to write down any words that they don’t understand and you can look up the meanings together.

Retelling what they’ve read: After they’ve read a short section of a text, ask your child to tell you about it in their own words. Recalling the story helps with comprehension, and you can also gauge how much they’ve understood.

Asking and answering questions: Read the same text or chapter as your child and open a discussion by asking them questions about it and inviting them to do the same. Discussing a book is an excellent way to check understanding and keep the material fresh in their mind.

Summarising the important facts: Summarising is a great way to improve active reading and comprehension skills. It requires an understanding of the whole text and judgement about which information is the most important. If your child can tell you the important parts of a story, they are well on their way to being an exceptional active reader!

What should parents do to improve their child’s reading skills?

A lot of reading difficulty can come about because children feel like reading is hard work, or they just aren’t interested in what they are reading. Encouraging good reading habits is a step in the right direction for parents looking to help their children read well.

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

Read to your child: It’s never too early to start reading to your child and reading together can become a healthy and enjoyable family activity. Reading out loud exposes young children to new words that will help their language skills. Interacting with books from an early age helps to make the activity into a routine.

Read to yourself: If your child sees you reading regularly, they’re more likely to build an interest in the activity. Find a book you love and read whenever you get the chance. Your child will learn from you.

Surround them with books: Having a variety of books to choose from is a great way for your child to discover what interests them. Reading something enjoyable will do wonders for their curiosity and reading comprehension. They’ll be skilled, active readers in no time! Reading is important because words are the building blocks of life. Get your child excited about reading, and they’ll surprise you with their progress. 

If you have the opportunity, invest in an e-Reader, Kindle or electronic book: Electronic books, e-readers, and Kindles have many benefits. You can download books that are not available in stores, you can have instant access to books; most e-books have blue light restrictors and dimming options for your surroundings, they are lightweight and can be carried anywhere - especially on holidays or short trips. 

We have two Kindle books in the library for use  - speak with our wonderful librarian Jael, or Tr. Mandie for more information. 

What’s next?

Network International School Yangon - The Importance of Reading

Next week is Book Week, when we will celebrate all things literary, although this year the week has a specific theme of “Antagonists”. Throughout the week, there will be a range of activities both in and out of the classroom, which will culminate in the Spelling Bee on Thursday and students and staff dressing up on Friday.

As the end of Term 3 fast approaches, there is only one more Parents’ Coffee Morning left. This will be led by Tr Jacob:

15th March: Applying to UK universities - Tr Jacob


Mandie Marshall
Head of English and Communications Faculty
Network International School

  • Secondary School