Miss Nirmala Yadav, Principal of CCA School, Gurugram, has some enlightening insights about encouraging reading among children. It starts with teachers! “Unless I am passionate about reading, how do I communicate the same to my teachers and as a result expect that it be passed on to the students,” asks the Edu Leader who has taken it upon herself to motivate her teachers and children to read.

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She correctly notes that students would be enthusiastic about reading only if teachers are excited about the books they are recommending to their children. So what did Miss Yadav do? She implemented a mandatory 20 minutes weekly reading time, not for children, but for teachers!

Teachers are asked to spend 20 minutes in the library every week, reading anything other than their subjects. And if they don’t feel like reading anything, they are asked to put their heads down and sit in the library! The reasoning behind this is that there are so many books in the library that eventually they would be enticed to pick up something and read. Any books other than magazines, be they comic books or academic books on science and history, are approved reading material for these 20 minutes. Miss Yadav has asked the librarian to keep a record of this and even follows this up with them! So there is no cheat code here!

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She believes that these 20 minutes, when teachers become students, will help them understand the joys of reading which can later be inculcated in the students. As teachers who develop this new interest read for young children from outside the textbook, they become excited too. Because when a teacher who loves reading recommends books, the passion will be evident in their voices, in the highs and lows of intonations, and in the nuances of the language that they use.

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The child will pick up on these, eventually making them curious and enthusiastic about reading- not just reading in English, but reading in any language.

While reading in English is important—especially since these children are set to become citizens of the world who will travel around the globe—reading itself is given prime importance at Miss Yadav’s school. This is because she is aware that children who read have an edge over those who don’t. She says that their breadth of vocabulary, ability to read fast and comprehend things better and quicker, gives them a 20 percent higher chance of success both in academics and in their career. 20 minutes of reading time for teachers seems like a small ask for the increased well-being and prosperity of our children. So it’s time to pick up a book, don’t you think so?!

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