It is said that reading is food for the soul. Indeed, establishing this habit in early childhood can go a long way in shaping your child’s personality. Right from language and vocabulary development, honing of imaginative and creative skills to getting knowledge, the benefits of reading are myriad and diverse. Even reading to your children has its advantages—it increases bonding and security.
Actually, it is never too early to start. In his book, The Reading Handbook, Jim Trelease, gives us an interesting point to consider. He asks parents about when they start talking to their children. The obvious answer is—as soon as they are born. Well, it’s the same about reading. Even an infant can be read to. We need not think that children have to understand stuff before we read to them.
In fact, it is when we read and convey information to them, that they will begin understanding things. In a press statement, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that when parents come for routine check-ups, pediatricians should prescribe reading activities for children. Such is the importance of reading early to your child.
Here are a few tips to get your to child read and love it too.
Make reading a ritual
Children thrive on rituals. If they know what to expect, it makes life easier for them. It is good to have a reading ritual where you read to your child every day. Slowly, she will develop the habit of reading. In those special moments, she will learn about the magic of words and absorb new knowledge.
Moreover, it will make for some quality time together with you. Gradually, you too will understand her reading preferences and will know the kind of books she likes and the things she likes to learn. Continue reading to your children even when they get older—only now, pick up more challenging books.
Although most people swear by the before-bedtime reading ritual, pick any time of the day to read as you find convenient. A fixed reading time does not mean that you ‘have to’ read only in that time; it’s important to be flexible.
Set an example
Children learn by observing. So if you want your child to be a reader, you have to be one too. Besides reading together, give your child several opportunities to see you reading alone.
Don’t give lack of time as an excuse. How about finishing that novel on a lazy Sunday morning instead of flipping channels? When they see you read, they will mentally register that it is a fun and important thing to do. If other family members too are avid readers the influence is sure to rub on to your child.
Discuss what you read
When children start to read on their own, reserve some time for discussing what you both are reading. Share interesting bits you read with each other and talk about how it applies to your lives. If you read about something and see it in real life, make it a point to draw their attention to the fact. This makes reading more relevant and fun to children, making them want to read more.
Have a reading corner
To make it more engaging for the children, create their own cosy corner for reading in the house. Put up a small chair with cushions and desk where they can read comfortably. If space allows, keep a separate shelf for their books in that corner.
Formulate supporting activities
There are many activities besides reading that indirectly support reading. Bookshops and libraries often conduct literary activities that help pique the child’s interest in literature.
According to a booklet published by the Centre for Language in Primary Education, London, children learn to read not only when parents read to them, but also when they listen to them talking—when they talk to them about everyday happenings and encourage children to write and express themselves.
Subscribing to a magazine that is appropriate for your child’s age helps generate interest. Children love the anticipation of waiting for their copy to come every week or month. Read it and discuss it together.
Children can even start a book club with their friends, where they can exchange books with each other. Their club can meet once a week to discuss what they have read. Another reading-related activity is visiting a bookstore. Make it a habit to spend some time with your child browsing through books at a bookshop. Watching movies based on the books you have read together is fun too. Use your imagination to make reading interesting for your child.
While the above points are relevant for all age groups your choice of books depends on your child’s age. Go by what your child likes. Just remember one golden rule: If you and your child don’t enjoy the activity, then stop it immediately. There is no point forcing your child. Try it againin a stress-free environment and you are sure to succeed.
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