At a time when we are trying to put less emphasis on examinations, it is disappointing to read the commentary on May 25 ("Why reading should be a compulsory subject in school").
Indeed, a child's ability to read, and read well, can make an enormous difference to his school performance, career potential and personal success. Yet, this ability is just what it is, an ability to read well.
In order for children to benefit from reading, the writer proposes extrinsic motivation through compulsory book-reading requirements in school. It is ironic that, with this suggestion, parents would be telling their children that they need to pass their reading exam in order to enter a good university.
While I loved reading when I was younger, there were also children who preferred playing sports or painting. If you assigned them a book to read, they would see reading as a hateful devil that chases you relentlessly, even into your leisure time.
Thus, inculcating the need to read for leisure and not for grades is the key. We should be strongly focusing on inculcating the pleasures of reading by establishing a need for intrinsic motivation as the pathway towards building a book culture in leisure.
Instead of having a compulsory list, children should have the opportunity to behave the way adult readers do and choose their own reading material.
They know the kinds of texts from which they will take pleasure. There should be no predisposed notions that there are unacceptable books.
Then, teachers can expand the possibility of pleasure by introducing students to new books they might not have selected on their own.
Ultimately, we should want every child to come away mindful of the the deep pleasure when entering a story world, living through the character's actions, considering the character's perspectives, and pondering what it might mean for their own lives.
If we want children to embrace reading now and always, then we need to keep at the forefront of our attention the rich, complex, and profound pleasures of reading.
Donovan Chee Kwok Hoe