Imagine a furry blue monster with a kind face and a pink nose.
It may or may not look anything like this (Chris Riddell’s Mr Underbed, Andersen Press, 2009), but there’s one thing about it: your imagined monster is your own. When you think about a furry blue monster with a kind face and a pink nose next time, it may be a mix of what you have imagined and what you have now seen.
Every child imagined Harry Potter differently, i.e. till the first movie came out. And then he looked just like Daniel Radcliffe.
The thing with written text is that the writer offers fuzzy details (unlike a movie). And so, the reader’s brain is not only decoding words and sentences but also interpreting patterns, generating context on the fly, extrapolating information, filling in details, predicting and preparing the self for the next page. These are extremely complex brain functions and we use a deceptively simple verb for it – imagine. The reader imagines.
Reading is an important life skill not just because we all grow up and read legal forms, medicine labels, emails, and so on, but also because reading helps us train our minds to imagine.
Almost all schools recognize that the reading habit is critical, whatever be their reasoning. Some schools cultivate it in their children through librarian-driven programmes, D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read), parent-backed initiatives, or maybe even literary festivals. If the school is lucky, they might have an enthusiastic book-loving English teacher who inspires her students on a personal level.
A few schools adopt an integrated approach. Perhaps their language teachers coordinate with the librarian to work towards linking library reading to the curriculum.
Other schools work with third parties such as the Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (BLPS) to help build a reading habit among their children. The core benefit of working with a third party is that the party can bring expertise to the table and enable the school management to shift its focus to other areas that need attention. The problem gets solved without much of a sweat.
BLPS itself started off as a small pilot program when a school principal asked our team to help her get her children to visit the school library and borrow books. It grew into something much more. Here’s a video (6 mins) about our journey:
Learn More about BLPS
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