I am a teacher, specializing in English/writing classes for home school and Christian school students. As I recently posted on my website, I am also a novelist. However, all of my life I have been an avid reader. It all began in the third grade when my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (the Baltimore public library system) held a summer reading program for kids. After that, I was hooked.
Through the written narrative, I have met hundreds, maybe thousands of fascinating people over the years. With a book in my hands (or Kindle), I enter their minds, their hearts, and experience the intense emotions they feel as they encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges. I learn to empathize with people of different ages and cultures. I am able to “live” history. And, I am absolutely positive that all of this reading made me a better writer, even as far back as grade school.
Parents ask me all the time, “How can I help my child write better?” My first answer: encourage them to read. Buy them books. Read the books with them. Make sure they have a library card. When they are young, go with them to the library. Let them see you choose a book to bring home and read. Talk about the books you read, the themes, the characters. Ask them about the books they are reading. What do they like? Or, just as important, why did they stop reading the book? .
After well over a decade of teaching English/writing, I have come to this conclusion: those who read often, write better than those who don’t, hands down. Without even realizing it, as students read, they pick up invaluable tips on sentence structure, vocabulary, plot, characterization, setting, etc. When they sit down to form their thoughts into a fiction or non-fiction format, they are at a definite advantage from having read prime examples in many genres. There are more advantages to reading, but I will cover those in an additional article.