By Deepa Vaidya,
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss.
Over the years, there have been numerous studies that have highlighted the importance of reading to children. We all know and agree that children who read are more likely to do well in academics.
They have better communication skills, a larger vocabulary, sharper logical thinking skills and better communication skills. In this fast paced world though, children are constantly performing a balancing act between completing their homework on time, participating in co-curricular activities like sports and studying for ongoing evaluations. How do we then as parents, kindle a love for reading? Both me and my children are avid readers. Here are a few tricks that I have tried successfully:
- Read to your children early and as often as you can: It is never too early to introduce a child to the world of books. Even babies and toddlers enjoy watching you read picture books and pop-up books. My youngest one who is under a year old loves staring at bright coloured picture books and sometimes chomp down on those. It is never too early to start!
- Start off with simple books: For early readers, you can introduce books by Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown and Dr Seuss. These books have simple rhyming words that children love. Initially you will have to read to them. As your children get older, you can alternately read a page and ask them to read the next. Before you know it, your children will be reading the book cover-to-cover.
- Let children choose: As you read more and more books, your children may show preferences for certain books or a certain genre. Introduce them to a large selection, but let them lead the way. Maybe they have a favourite character that they like to read about or maybe they like a particular author’s style of writing. There is no right or wrong book to read.
- Incorporate reading into your daily schedule: Leave aside a certain time of the day where you want your kids to read. In my house, reading is part of our bedtime routine. After the kids are ready for bed, they like to cuddle with a book and fall asleep. This is also an excellent activity to calm them down before bedtime.
- Minimize time spent in front of television: There is a reason why the television is called an ‘Idiot box’. Watching television is a passive activity. Because books convey information through the written word without the benefit of tone, inflection and director’s opinions, they depend heavily on the reader’s imagination. Television on the other hand provides you with the story, already carved out as per the director’s imagination and edited for brevity. The first time my children saw the Harry Potter series on celluloid, they were surprised by how much of the story had been edited to fit into the stipulated movie time. Much of JK Rowling’s rich prose and subtle details had been lost in transforming the books into movies.
- Be patient: If initially your children do not take to reading right away, do not lose heart. Keep trying out different genres or different authors. Persistence always pays and your children will eventually like a certain author that they want to read over and over.
- Join a library: If you have a public library that you can go to, make it a habit to visit it every few days. You can also join your neighbourhood lending library or avail of the library in your child’s school. We have seen some of the methods by which you can nurture the reading habit in your children. Books have the power to benefit your children in a myriad of ways. Therefore, as a parent, fostering a love of reading in your child can provide a foundation for academic excellence.
About the Author:
Deepa is a mother of 3 children. She has a Master’s degree in Information Sciences from Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey. She is currently on a sabbatical from her career in software development and taking care of her 8 month old. She has just finished reading the Hunger Games series with her older twins and has embarked on reading Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s epic Discovery of India with them.
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