We all want to instil a love for books in our children from an early age. We also see the merit in developing the reading habit in our children especially if we have been readers ourselves. However, reading doesn’t come naturally to children and the habit needs to be inculcated and encouraged.
Research tells us that reading is the product of decoding and comprehension. Although this sounds simple, learning to read is much tougher than people think. To learn to decode and read printed English, children must be aware that spoken words are composed of individual sound parts. This letter sound linkage is termed as phoneme awareness.
Since English is not our first language, young children do not get the opportunity to listen to it in their immediate environment. This makes the task of developing a love for reading a more difficult one.
Moreover, children of today have innumerable distractions; be it a gaming device, social media, television etc. Attention spans have shortened and children are spoilt for choice as far as entertainment is concerned. In such a scenario, children are less inclined to pick up a book and read.
The simple pleasures that come from quietude and free play, something that we had experienced in our childhood, are gone. In the world of today, after-school activities, homework etc. compete with reading time. As parents, we undoubtedly have a mammoth task set before us…”How to raise a child who loves to read?”
There is no one way to raise a child who loves to read. Different strategies work with different children. There are many smart, easy ways that parents can adopt to get their kids to enjoy reading. Primarily, children should not perceive reading as another chore. There should be no pressure. Parents should keep the process light and fun for them. Shanna Schwartz, a lead senior staff developer at Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in New York City says, “If we treat books like they’re magical, kids will grow up believing that too.”
4 Simple strategies that inspire a love of reading in children:
- Read one page and make the child read another
When children feel that reading is hard, this strategy really works. When you read one page and make your child read another, it becomes easier for her. She doesn’t feel that the book is long or difficult and can soon progress to reading all pages on her own. Moreover, when the child is being read to, comprehension is better and new words can be explained. Nina Mehta, mother of 7-year-old Apoorv says, “My son is not much of a reader presently. I would definitely like him to read more. He is an overactive child and prefers playing outdoors anytime. I read to him as often as I can. I realize that when I read to him, he likes it better than reading alone. I think that words that he doesn’t comprehend while reading by himself, he does when I read to him.”
- Fix a reading time and read to the child daily
Ensure that your child follows a daily reading ritual. Set aside a fixed time for it. Do not stop reading to your child even if she reads on her own. Reading to the child regularly keeps her interested and provides ample opportunity for conversations and discussions. Mohita, mother of 7-year-old Vaanya says, “My daughter likes to read but it is a challenge to get her into a regular reading habit. There are days when she willingly reads on her own and then there are other days when I have to keep reminding her. There is no denying the fact that television and art and craft take priority. When I see that she is not in the mood to read by herself, I read aloud to her and ask her questions pertaining to the story. We enjoy our time together and I also get know how well she is comprehending text.”
- Bring Books to Life
Try to visit places or do things that are in the child’s book. For example, if the child is reading a story like Charlotte’s Web which is about farm animals, try and visit a farm. If the book is about food, try some easy recipes with your child at home. Secondly, create “what if” scenarios to foster imagination and creativity. Ask your child, what if the character had done things differently? How would the story change? Let your child step into the character’s shoes.
Watching the movie after reading the book is also a great idea. Megha Kumar, mother of 8-year-old Ayushmaan says, “I think what really helps him to read more are the movies that he watches. He has seen all the Harry Potter movies and has begun to read the series. It is a good idea to get the kids to watch movies based on books. This really helps rouse their interest in them.”
- Try audio books
Audiobooks can be inspiring for tardy readers. The fluency and expression with which books are narrated make them very engaging for kids. When your child listens to a powerful voice narrate the story confidently, it is sure to pique her interest in listening and reading. Moreover, all the elements that go into enjoying a book can be experienced in audio books like understanding the message, thinking critically about the content, using imagination, and making connections.
Audi books can introduce children to books that are above their reading level and of a different genre from the ones that they usually read. To top it all, if a parent listens to the audiobook along with the child, it lays the foundation for discussion on important topics with the child.
We hope that we have been able to find your inspiration to help your child become a book lover. Do share your stories with us and help inspire other parents like you.