According to research completed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on education and reading and their role of promoting social mobility, reading for pleasure is a strong indicator of future success of a child. The research findings conclude that a good foundation in reading facilitates success in specialised education during higher education or during job-related training.

If your teen is reading, even if it’s on a mobile or a tablet, that is reason to rejoice.

“I cannot stress this enough – read often, and read widely. Reading builds vocabulary, broadens the mind, and allows the reader to exercise their imagination. Most children do not read enough, and that becomes evident in their Language and Literature exam scores,” says Ms Richa Ahuja who taught English and Literature in a local school, and went on to start her own language centre, Words Worth at Katong V.

While it is reassuring to note that all schools here encourage reading with some having some form of structured reading programmes in place, the OECD research highlighted that children should be self-motivated to read and not coerced or cajoled into it.

Ploughing through a text book does not count. Fortunately, reading Harry Potter’s latest adventure does.

Learning more about the reading habits of teens, the National Library Board (NLB) conducted a survey in 2016 and found that teens here tend to spend more time doing other activities than reading, preferring to watch videos rather than read. Only slightly more than half (54 percent) of about the 485 teens asked agreed that
reading is enjoyable.

Yet, the main reason that teens read is due to the internet and digital devices which have helped them to read more.

To spark the love for reading, schools here have come up with innovative reading programmes to encourage children to read. In 2017, NLB, together with the Ministry of Education (MOE) launched the inaugural Reading Excellence Awards to recognise schools for their efforts in engaging students to read more.

Younger children got to dress up as their favourite book characters and engage in conversations about their characters while older children have reading timeslots set aside during curriculum for supervised reading.

At home, it is never too late to get your child started on reading.

With apps, we save money on bookshelves and we get to “carry” the books wherever we go. Stock up your mobile device with books for your children so they get to read instead of playing games or watching videos.

Here are 4 apps to get you started:

1. Google Play Books
You can choose from five million titles -- some are free and some are not. It is a digital bookstore for the young and the old. You can download e-books to read them offline and save on mobile data.

2. Wattpad
Wattpad builds a community connecting readers and writers. Readers can comment, react to the story plot and connect directly to the writer. You can also write and share your own story on WattPad and submit it for a WattPad Award. Best for junior writers and encourages youths to start telling their stories.

3. Epic!
Designed for kids under 12, Epic! offers access to 25, 000 kids’ books covering a wide range of genres including non-fiction, quizzes, educational videos and audiobooks, so you don’t have to read to them. Each account allows you to create 4 profiles which can be assigned to each child and they get to create their own reading list.

4. NLB Mobile App
NLB app enhances your library membership which is already free for Singapore citizens and PRs (PR need to pay a registration fee of $10.50). Through the app, you can search for and choose to borrow the ebook version to read on the go or visit the library outlet for a physical copy of the book. With the app, you can borrow up to 16 e-books which will be automatically ‘returned’ after a loan of 21 days. NLB currently stocks 7.5 million physical books and 0.7 million ebooks in their collection. You can also register for updates on library events through the app!

In addition, here are some recommended titles from Ms Richa to read during the holidays:
•   Twisted Tales by Roald Dahl
•   Animal Farm by George Orwell
•   The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
•   Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah
•   Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
•   Percy Jackson (series) by Rick Riordon
•   A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
•   The Sisters Grimm (series) by Michael Buckley
•   I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
•   The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) by Douglas Adams

For children who do not like looking at pages of words, you can always encourage them to start with comics, magazines or instructional manuals. Start at the level your child is most comfortable with and find something they enjoy for them to develop an interest. Don’t give up and they will eventually progress.