A topic that has been touched upon by so many and written about several times.
So why am I writing about this here?
The reason is simple I still get queries from parents about this. I am seeing this question often in mommy groups on Facebook these days. So I thought to share my views and techniques too for raising a reader.
First of all, I want to clarify that what I will share is from my personal experience, so you need to tweak it a bit to suit your home.
I was raised as a reader by my mother because I grew up watching her read books, novels, stories, magazines, cookbooks, etc., during her free time. She was a passionate educator, a homemaker, was a mentor to many, loved to host get-togethers with family friends at our home. Now I wonder how she found time to read.
Every weekend we would visit a library a little farther from our house to pick our favorite books. I had the liberty to choose two books a week from the kid’s section while she had two from her section. Later I moved to a school that had a library with a great collection of books. I was the only one who was visiting the library often to get books issued.
When I became a mom, I was super busy with a corporate job and being a mommy to two lovely girls, and taking care of elders in the family. Amidst all this, I stopped reading books, so my girls naturally were not raised as readers from early years. We started the journey when they were in primary grades.
After this realization, I made it a point to visit local book stores often and browse through their collections. We also joined American Consulates Library and would go there every 15 days to read books and bring back seven books home. The library was inside the consulate, and my girls loved going there as it required a full security check. The premise gave a feeling that one is on a secret mission till you enter the library.
Gently I introduced my daughters to various kids authors and their collections. We would buy books 2-3 for them and 1 for me. We used to read those in the night. Initially, they had low interest. As I resumed reading in my free time, they also started picking up. My elder one is an avid reader, and her collection of books is incredible. My younger one is still graduating to becoming a reader.
Here are my simple tips for raising a reader :
The first is to start early. You can pick picture storybooks and read them to your little one. Pick a book that has simple sentences instead of just words. Buy a book that also provides sensory stimulation to the child while reading. Consider Flip-flap books or touch & feel books, something that creates extra attraction towards the reading session.
Read the book with proper voice modulation, make funny sounds while describing characters, basically let your little one enjoy the reading session. So they come back for more.
VISIT A LIBRARY OR A BOOK STORE REGULARLY
Visit a bookstore or library often, let your kid explore books on their own. Little older kids over Six can have the freedom to select books of their choice. There are book stores that allow you to sit and read for your child. I used to do this at our local Crosswords. Trust me, this practice itself brings a love for books into your kid’s life.
Here is one more tip, do visit the store once before taking your child there. Why? Bookstores these days also have a section dedicated to toys the dolls, games, cars, etc. And most of the time display of this section is before the kid’s book section. Since we intend to cultivate reading habits by exposing the child to the world of books, this little visit will ensure that you are aware of danger zones in the store and you figure out a way around it. My daughter would often get stuck in the doll section – the famous dolls from a very reputed brand. I moved quickly from that section to books and helped them first select the books. Later they would pick up the toy of their choice. I would ask them to choose which books and which toys they wish to keep. In our case, the books always won because my girls figured out that a similar doll is already at home so getting a new book is worth it.
AVOID LINKING LEARNING OUTCOMES TO READING HABIT
A big mistake to avoid is reflecting upon what the child has gained after reading the book. I fell into this trap of checking their vocabulary, so at the beginning, I ended up spoiling their reading sessions. Activity after the story has to be child-led. If they want to narrate to you what they have read, please welcome them. If they wish to close the book and do something else, please allow that. Do not get tempted to extract some learning out of it immediately. It will put off your child, who is just getting initiated into reading.
SET AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR CHILD TO FOLLOW
And last but the most crucial aspect is to have a dedicated time for reading books in your routine. When kids see parents indulge in reading, they naturally follow it. If they see you engrossed reading a book, they too will pull a book and pretend to read. With time they will start enjoying it. If you share what you gained or understood after reading a book, they too would follow it.
“Do not force your child to read what you loved to read as a child.
Let them figure out what they like to read.“
Hoping this helps fellow parents to inculcate a habit of reading books in their kids. A child who loves reading a book is never alone. Hence as parents, we must try to bring this hobby into their lives. Books are also a portal to a world of imagination, creativity, expressions, and let us connect our kids to that.
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