The moment a kid sees a new thing, they are inquisitive! They want to touch, feel and hold it in their hands! This is how a curious mind of a little kid works. This is where a role of a parent is important. This is where you come in the picture! This is when you introduce them to things, which douse the fire of curiosity inside them. Things like colors, pictures, words, textures, characters, illustrations, and numbers.
Or something, which has it all, BOOKS!
What should you as parents do to help your kids become good and avid readers? How do you instill the hobby of reading in kids?
Well, it is not difficult; the key is to keep trying and start early!
When it comes to developing the habit of reading in kids, many parents out there are in a fix. Kids just don’t want to read. They will play outdoors, watch TV, or most commonly these days play on phones and tablets, but won’t pick a book willingly and read. The prime reason I feel is the introduction. The sooner you introduce them, the easier it is to instill this as a habit.
In the Indian scenario, the pressure of academics is immense, and it is very overwhelming for the kids. When you ask them to read non-academic books, they run away from the idea. The over exposure of books in school, bores them and they look for something different and innovative when they come home. When you introduce them to books early; it has a lasting impression. It prepares them for school and helps them adapt to the reading- focused learning environment in future classrooms, but at the same time keeps them going back to their love for books, that were first introduced to them, which were non-academic!
Introducing books early is now a given, but how to do that is fairly simple too!
Reading has to be a hobby that needs to be cultivated actively at home. Below are a few pointers that will help you in introducing your kids to the amazing world of books.
Practice what you preach
Kids try to copy the elders in whatever we do. That is why we often have to watch our words and actions in front of them. But if you want to teach them to read every day, start reading yourself! Kids learn by example better than just being instructed to do so! So grab a book or may be just a magazine or a newspaper and read every day, your kid will definitely try to copy you.
Read for them
Read to your kids and make it a ritual! Till they start reading themselves, dedicate a time in the day to read to your kids every day. Kids will love this little family time and look forward to it. They associate it with being close, comfortable and build their confidence.
Read with expressions!
When you read a book or a story and emphasize on the tone of your voice, change it with the highs and lows of the book, it dramatically changes the way a child interprets the story! Taking care of the way a character would speak, laying importance to the punctuations, will keep the interest of the story going and make it more enjoyable for them! Just like a movie playing in front of them! So don’t hesitate, just make some noises and mimic the way a character would speak. It also helps in understanding the meaning of words and phonemes!
Ask them questions.
Ask them about their favorite character, and why is it their favorite? Point at the characters from the illustrations, so that they relate to them from their imagination. While reading, before proceeding to the next page, ask them predictive questions about what is going to happen next? This will keep them engaged till the end. Show genuine interest in what they are reading and ask questions to know the level of their understanding.
Take them to story-reading sessions and movies based on the books.
Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings are the best of all time and will be read, loved and watched by generations to come! Story reading sessions will help them come across kids with similar interests and help them understand a book better!
Encourage sharing and exchanging books
Sharing and exchanging books with friends and family and making them join book clubs will inculcate the habit of sharing and becoming social. Looking at close friends and family read will also motivate them to pick books at home. Also discussing same books with people will help them learn varied perspectives and reactions to the book and make it a joyous activity.
Create a reading corner at home
There should be a small library or a quiet corner at home for books, where both kids and adults can sit together and read, it should also be easily accessible to the kids, so that they can pick the books that they like whenever they like and read them.
Take them to bookstores and library
Bookstores have innovated to become a place where one can sit and even enjoy a cup of coffee while browsing. Take your kids to such book cafes and let them explore the shop, spend time books for sometime and choose a book of their liking on their own. All this while you can enjoy your reading time sipping tea. You can also take them to the numerous book fairs happening every year.
Reading does not have to be just books. With the advent of new technologies like ‘Kindle’, online blogs and platforms like Google and Wikipedia, it has made reading not just about books. This newness in reading will trigger their interest and re-instill their love for reading. Encourage them to do source more information on their school projects on Wikipedia and Google, which will also give them a sense of independence and self-reliance.
Gift them books as rewards
Days when we use to get books as gifts are long gone. Bring back those days and show the importance and value of books to your kids. Instead of toys and videogames, gift them books that might interest them, to show that they can be fun too. Tell them the benefits of reading and reward them with the books of their choice to develop their interests!
Decrease Screen time
Restricted screen time will ensure that the kids have time to read books. So next time your kid is bored in a flight or at home, instead of handing over your phone, just try and give them books.
Choose the right books
- Books with Pictures
- An illustrated book with colorful pictures and graphics is any day more capturing and interesting than one without them. Introduce them with illustrated books, it will help them in understanding the book better and keep them interested.
- Choose the right books according to the interests of the child. Like if your child is fond of a particular sport, get him/her a book from that field or a famous personality’s biography from that sport.
- At the same time choose easy to understand books. Choose books that are age-specific. There are interactive and gimmicky books for children below the age of 2 years, which have lift the flaps, pop-ups, and textures for babies to feel and touch. Age specific books are specially designed, so buying them will help in their growth and at the same time make them easy to understand.
- Books from different genres like sports, science, history, fiction will help them be interested in variety of topics and not just one.
Read from moments in life
Encourage them to read moments in life, point them out to your kid, like grocery list, road signs, restaurant bills and so on.
Develop techniques of your own
Create your own ideas to promote reading. Some kids may take in the habit easily and some may take time. Watch closely for your child’s interests, discuss what excites him/her and accordingly prepare a plan around it. For example, for game lovers, a game for who comes first in finding the most words from a list given, from a chapter in a book., might be more fun and will increase their knowledge of words.
Don’t give up too easily. Reading is a habit that is very rewarding. Nurturing this habit form an early age will build a confident and a knowledgeable person. For some, it is seen as a learning experience and for some like me it is an inspiring and life altering experience, either way it’s a boon.
Keep encouraging your kids by making it a pleasant activity. Nurture it slowly and steadily as forcing can have adverse effects such as a hatred for books. Keep reading books to yourself, even if the kid has left mid way, he/she will surely come back to you! A constant effort will surely instill the love for reading in your child someday.
So read away!
All the best!!
- Rishu Agarwal
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