Books can take us to a magical world. They help us meet people we have never met and see places we have never seen. But today this magical world is slowly disappearing from the lives our children. Our over-dependence on televisions, laptops and iPads to keep our children entertained is producing a generation of children who will never know the magic that books can conjure for us.
Developing a good reading habit during early childhood is considered to be of prime importance. Not only does it help the children academically, but it also helps them in many other aspects of their life. Reading helps children improve their vocabulary and stimulates their imagination.
So, how can we cultivate good reading habits in our children? Let’s see how:
#1. Introduce your child to books early
Children should be introduced to books even if they haven’t learnt to read yet. Read out the stories to them every night. Ask them questions about the story or the characters. Once they fall in love with stories, they will be keen to read them on their own. Help them search for words they know in the books.
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#2. Try some play acting
While reading out stories to your toddler at bedtime try some play acting. Children love it when you bring character to life like that. Also, it helps children associate storybook reading time with fun time.
#3. Pick age-appropriate books
The markets have a variety of books for all ages. Pick pop up books for the youngest of readers. Interactive books, books with sound buttons and finger puppets, there is a whole range of books available which can make reading a fun experience for children.
#4. Don’t force your child to sit and read
Children often get bored of a book after a page or two. Don’t force them to sit and read or listen to you. This will make your child associate reading with punishment. If your child wants to play with a toy for some time, let him play. You can continue to read the story out loud. Often children will get some back and want to know the rest of the story.
#5. Talk about the book
Talk to your child about the book that he/she is reading. Discuss the characters and the settings. Try to associate them with people you may know in real life. This will tell you what kind of books your child likes to read. You can then suggest some new books or authors for your child to learn in that genre.
#6. Visit bookshops with your children
Take your children with you when you visit a bookstore. Let them take their time and choose books for themselves. Introduce them to all kinds of books. Whether it is fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies or encyclopedias, let your children go through them all. As a parent, you can guide them to read books according to their level. But let them choose the topic or the author. Don’t force your choice on them.
#7. Share your books from childhood
If you have saved some books from your childhood, share them with your children. You children will be fascinated to read the books when they come to know that these belonged to you as a child.
Even if you have not saved any books from your childhood, tell your kids what kinds of books and comics you read. It will encourage them to follow your lead.
#8. Read every night
Ensure that you read with your children read every night. It may start with you reading out stories to your child and will progress to them learning themselves. If your children form this habit of reading every night from their childhood, it will stay with them all their life.
#9. Let your child read at his own pace
Children have a short attention span. Often they will not finish the book that they start. Don’t be disappointed and don’t force them to finish the book. Doing this will make reading seem like a school task and not a fun activity. This may put them off books.
#10. Books should be accessible
Don’t keep your kid’s books in hard to reach places. Bookshelves should not become showpieces. They should be placed where they are easily accessible to the children. Children are more likely to pick up a book and start reading it if it is easily accessible.
#11. Take membership of a good library
Introduce your child to libraries as soon as possible. Libraries are a treasure trove of information and books and should be a part of every child’s life. Many libraries organise books readings and storytelling sessions which children enjoy a lot.
#12. Join a book reading club
If there is a book reading club for children in your neighbourhood, join it. When children meet other children who are interested in books, they too will develop an interest in the same. Reading and discussing books together can be an excellent experience for children.
Televisions and video games can be quite distracting and can prevent your children from developing good reading habits. So, keep your kids away from the device or at least restrict their use for a limited time in a day.
Over to you
As parents, we must introduce the world of books to our children. To develop a good habit in their children, parents have to make a conscious effort. But once this foundation is laid and the habit is engrained, children will never lose their love for books all through their life.