How to get your child to love reading?
9 minute read, Written By: Momly
Are you planning on inculcating the reading habit in your child? What are the different ways to start the reading habit? How to nurture book reading so that it lasts for a lifetime? Momly sat with a reading enthusiast whose dream was not only to read to her children but also to build a library so that other children can also enjoy reading. With her age-appropriate curated lists and easy, workable tips, here is everything you need to know about the world of books.
We all know how screen time is stealing our children’s innocence. The innocent time which could be spent on reading and exploring books is slowly getting replaced by high-end technological gadgets, game apps and million-odd entertainment programmes on television. Today, parents fret that their little ones are not showing much interest in reading books. While we cannot stop agreeing to that, we would like to utter some calming words to soothe your nerves. “Reading is a habit that can be hailed easily into your child’s life”. How? Please scroll down.
Books are windows to the outside world. It transports you to different far-off lands and roads less travelled without you moving your feet. Books also teach how to regulate emotions as there is a book for every emotion and to overcome feelings like grief, anger or any phase that one goes through. Children who read have great articulation skills, and wide knowledge of their surroundings. Reading also helps strengthen their focus, sharpens their memory and improves their vocabulary. But having said that, book reading has to be fun for children and not just academically oriented.
When do you start reading to your children?
You can start reading to your child right when she is in your womb, as per research. But for practical purposes, you can start reading once she is over 3 - 4 months. Start with simple one-word or first-word books/picture-oriented books. The first association with books for children is always by holding them, putting them in their mouth, or chewing/tearing them. It is completely okay for them to do all of these. Once they are over 6 months to 1 year, their interest in exploring books will be tethered sharply and that’s when the tearing and chewing would stop. Right at that time, you can start reading to them. At the outset, reading also strengthens the bond between you and your child.
Here are some tips to keep your child connected to books:
- Let the illustration talk – Illustration is a secret code through which you can embark on a journey with your child to read more books. If you are just starting, avoid wordy books. Get more illustrative books with a lot of colourful pictures. Let the picture lead your child into the story. Wordy books oftentimes are not accepted graciously by younger children. You can graduate into more wordy books later on. You can also buy storybooks with sticker sheets and fun doodles.
- Family reading time – Parents, if you want your child to read, then you should set an example. Model the behaviour right at home. It is also why parents who are readers themselves do not find it difficult to raise their children as readers. Choose a book for yourself and plan on reading one or two pages daily. Your child, looking at you read, will automatically direct her attention to books. You can also hold family reading time every week for just 10 minutes to make it more interesting and make them latch on to books.
- Go by their favourite themes – By the time, your child attains toddlerhood, you will have known their interests. Select books according to their likes and inclination. What are they attracted to? Is it cars, space, rainbow, nature or any other thing? Get books on the topics of their choice. It is the best way to establish any habit in them and children do derive a lot of pleasure if books are based on their interests.
- Choose a reading nook – Reading nooks can be anywhere. It could be a bedroom, a study or a balcony. Choose a comfortable corner in your house and spruce it up with nice throws and pillows. Bunch up books around it and sit back and enjoy reading with your child. Children love patterns and sameness. You can just plan on a reading time and take your books to your chosen nook. Your child will look at this routine and gravitate towards sitting with the book herself.
- Let them choose their books – Children love taking decisions. They feel that they are grown up enough to take charge of their life. You can ask your child to choose the books that she wants to read. Have books at an accessible place so that they can easily get to them. Once she has picked up, her interest is already launched. Post which you can read aloud or sit with her and be invested in the pages of the book.
- Movie-first method - Pick out any classic from your bookshelf and check if the movie is available online for free or in any OTT format. Show the movie to your child. Let her get immersed in the plot, empathize with the characters and learn the message that surrounds the story. Once that is over, your job begins. Get that book out and sit with your child. As the movie has already ignited the fire, the brimming curiosity in the cat will make the cat enjoy the book even more. Each character and the idiosyncrasies/quirks of the character are known to the child now that she has seen them visually. The visual imagery will be in even with the imagination that the book promises to deliver. Children generally love this movie-first method and in a way, the story gets registered and stays vivid in their memory. A movie first followed by a book reading session with snacks in the offering sounds fun, isn't it?
- Read aloud - Reading aloud is wonderful and ideally, you should do it for at least 15 minutes a day. Try getting a short and simple picture book and sit with your child. Let her see the pictures and you focus on the text. Slowly she will shift her attention from the pictures to the text you read. For parents who have a child more than 6 years old and if he or she is comfortable reading on their own then you can take turns. Distributive reading makes the child engage more with the story. Read one line yourself and let the other line be read by your child. Show a lot of enthusiasm while reading aloud.
- Join a library – A library is a place where you can simply devour books on different themes, genres and plots. Take your child to a library. Let her look at the shelves filled with books. The touch and feel of the books set the tone for reading. Pick a book and sit on a couch, run through the illustrations, and show her the dialogue of the characters. Sign up for a library membership and get different books. The library is soft on your pocket and has no dearth of choices.
- Conversations on books – Let the conversation happen around books. Ask your child which book she is reading. Ask about the storyline, the characters and the moral of the plot. Engage with more ideas and let their creative juices flow. Children are gifted with brilliant imaginations. Ask your child to weave the story with a different ending. This will amplify creativity and help in concocting different stories.
- Select relatable themes – Check contemporary tales written by Indian authors. The text is mostly relatable and the contexts are not alien to the children, unlike the international plotlines which your children will not be able to relate to. Do not go by standard recommendations but explore diverse topics.
A word from Momly
A habit to turn into a ritual needs some time and effort from parents. Make reading a pleasurable activity and keep reading to them every day. Follow the above tips and get your child invested in reading. To know more about reading, come participate in our Momly Social Bangalore event. Get a chance to meet the founder of Dream library who will be narrating stories to your children.