“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” – Charles Baudelaire
It’s a well-established fact that the power found between the pages of a book is formidable. Books play a huge part in the development of the mind, heart, and soul. This is a habit which needs to be inculcated young as reading is an essential cornerstone to a child’s wholesome development. It improves their vocabulary and also increases their attentive skills and promotes powerful thinking as well.
Reading starts young, with infants listening to voices or even seeing colourful pictures. Infants start relating to voice modulations and movement during storytelling. Eventually, kids start pointing out pictures and even start saying words aloud, which leads them to read books independently. This habit allows children to understand their feelings and empathize with the characters in a book. Children who read or even who are read to, not only improve their literacy and language skills but also their thinking and listening skills. Books arouse curiosity among children and they enjoy participating by repeating words or lines of the story and even start guessing as to what would come next in a story which in turn fosters cognitive development.
However, it isn’t as easy to practice with the current generation hooked to virtual games, the internet and various electronic gadgets. As a parent you need to think of creative ways and put in a lot of effort to develop this habit in your child. Again, with the right approach and method, parents can ignite a love for reading in their children. In fact, with just a nudge in the right direction, you can get them hooked to books! Sounds impossible? Well, here are a few easy tips for you.
When it comes to reading, it’s never too early to make a beginning. New-borns respond to the soothing rhythm and intonation of your voice reading aloud as you cuddle them close. Make it a part of your daily routine, especially at night before you tuck them in. Inevitably you will see that your child will look forward to it each night as he or she grows up. This simple activity will help develop listening skill in your children since they learn to understand the spoken text as they progress.
Be careful to use proper voice intonation and actions while you read to your toddler and make it interesting. Change the tone and your expressions dramatically as the story unfolds. This will help in capturing their interest in what you are reading; otherwise, a monotone will quickly put them off the story. This helps in understanding the meaning of words and the story as a whole.
This corner need not be big or have a lot of bookshelves. Make this corner as cosy and comfortable as possible with a few favourite soft toys which your child can hold on to while listening to you read and at a later stage, read on their own. This should be a place where both children and adults can sit together and read. Books should be kept within easy reach so that kids can easily pick the books they like and read them when they want.
Children love copying their elders So if you are trying to get your kid to develop a habit of reading, practice what you are preaching! Make sure to set examples by reading books yourself. Practice this regularly, be it a book or a newspaper, making it a daily family ritual. Your child is sure to follow in your footsteps, catching onto to your enthusiasm soon!
Fill your home with all kinds of books and reading resources- leave them lying around, so that children have easy access. Out of sheer curiosity, your child is bound to pick them up and go through them even if it’s just for a few minutes. Research reveals that kids who grow up with reading material around them are more inclined to develop a reading habit than lack of such resources in childhood.
Expose your children to variety- various genres such as adventure, space, famous leaders, comics, fantasy, and so on. Exposure to numerous writing styles, authors, and types can help children be more open-minded, and ready to take on new challenges.
Amidst all these, don’t forget to focus on what your kid actually enjoys listening to you read or read themselves. Make sure to indulge in their favourite kinds of books; else he/she will lose interest. You should always allow your child to choose which book he wants to read.
Don’t get annoyed if your child wants you to read the same story repeatedly. This helps your child to master the flow of the story as well as develop fluency and confidence.
Begin with printed books and not digital ones. Get your child interactive books which have sound buttons and pull-out facts/characters that will bring stories to life. Also opt for books with rich illustrations. Your child will definitely be able to relate with the characters and follow the story better. They will be engrossed and will ask you more questions pertaining to the story.
Make sure to ask questions when/after you read a book. This will ensure that they are paying attention and help them focus.
Try to relate vocabulary, imagination, and information to their daily lives. This helps children to comprehend better as it makes them realise that reading is useful.
Take time to sit in front of your child and pay attention when he/she reads This not only makes them happy but develops confidence. Ask them to tell you what they have read once they finish and show interest by asking them relevant questions like which character, they liked or which part of the story they enjoyed the most.
Introduce your child to the wonders of the library and let him free to explore. Seeing other children reading or going through books is encouraging for them. Peer approval works wonders and will make them more interested in books!
Reading need not always be about sitting down with a book. Make it a part of daily life. Encourage your child to read out advertisements, posters, road signs, grocery lists, or instructions at the back of a product in the supermarket. Turn reading into a game!
Enrol your child in a playgroup or Montessori that not only encourages reading but practices it as a community activity. For example, the play school could have a reading class dedicated to reading or a book club that makes reading a fun activity to pursue with friends. At Little Laureates, we have both read aloud class and a book club to encourage our young readers.
These are just guidelines to help you organise your thoughts and follow a schedule to help your little ones turn into readers. We all agree that reading habit needs to be cultivated amongst the young ones so that it becomes a valued asset in adulthood. It not only serves as a hobby and a mode of relaxation but is a tool to attain knowledge.