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We all want our children to be the perfect, adorable little readers like we see in books and TV shows. We want them to bombard us with questions regarding faraway magical worlds and scientific facts. All we get today are anything but our fairy-tale vision of children. With the advancement in technology that we see today, most of the children have given up the habit of reading to indulge into something they think is more fun-like gaming, or online multiplayer games, or watching movie marathons, or anything that doesn’t require them to think.
Children who read are today as rare as the chocolate cigarettes which we cherished in our childhood. They leave from school looking forward to actually read something which is outside their syllabus. They make book clubs, join libraries and ask you about Harry Potter. They’re rare, but they’re there.
“I’m scared, Karen. I don’t think my child will ever read books.”
“Then make them. It’s quite simple to strategize the habit of reading.”
“How can I do that, Karen?”
- It’s all about visuals
Try picture books, illustrations with one-line descriptions, comics and basically anything that would stand out and grab the child’s attention. Let them be spoon-fed with imagination before they enter the realm of it. Visuals can never go wrong.
I remember reading Disney fairy-tales, tinkle, Panchatantra as a kid. They had beautiful illustrations and they genuinely made my imagination grow.
- Use the power of imitation
You cannot expect your young ones to suddenly start reading if they’ve never seen you do it. For children with a tender age, imitation is one of the key methods of learning. When asked how they picked up reading habits at a very young age, most avid readers agree that at some point of their childhood, they often spotted their parents reading and were deeply intrigued by it. Make sure your children see you reading and make yourself the reading role model in their lives.
“A castle full of witches and wizards? That’s interesting!”
“It really is. I will tell you a secret. I have something for you but you have to promise that you’ll read this book before I can give it to you.”
(Me making my future kids read Harry Potter before handling them their Hogwarts acceptance letter.)
- Do not rely on storytelling
The habit of bed-time stories is powerful. Yet it creates a certain level of dependence between you and the child. The goal should be clear- children should be able to adapt themselves to read without your help or presence. Help them with a word or two. Clear their doubts. Create curiosity, but do not make a habit of painting a picture for them. You’re just making them more dependent on you by doing that.
- Keep books at the bedside table
If you have a child who absolutely refuses to pick up any book that you’ve bought for them, there’s no problem. Keep those books at the bedside table. The child will look at it and ignore it for the first twenty days. But on the 21st day, the curiosity will finally motivate him/her to finally pick it up and see what the fuss is all about. And then they’ll thank you for it.
- Use interactive mediums of reading
Today, educational learning consists of high technology consumption on a daily basis. Our kids, no matter how young they are, are sometimes more equipped with technology than us. They’re taught using smart-boards and tablets. It’s evident that they’ll face trouble picking up a paperback. Luckily, we have the medium of e-books which is growing rapidly. By using a tab or a kindle, your child can find the definition of the word he was looking for with just a screen-touch. It’s super easy to use and it simply grows on children. A number of apps have also introduced audiobooks, which are becoming the preferential reading method for many people who are unable to reserve time for reading from their routine.
- Join a library
Libraries are an excellent place to discover new books and to simply enjoy the art of reading with some peace and quiet. It’s pretty cheap to get a subscription. The variety of books that you only see in a library isn’t anything like your ‘amazon books’ section. You can go with your child and help them select books.
- Add ‘reading time’ to their days
7 pm-8 pm, reading after they finish their homework, reading for an hour before bed. Find what is convenient for your child as well as you. Make a schedule and then keep to it. In no time, your children will be excited whenever their reading time is near.
- Talk to your child
If you’ve finally become successful and your child has started reading books (yay mommy!), your job isn’t done yet. Talk to them. Ask them about their favourite characters and what they think would happen later in the book. Ask them what they learn from the books they read. When children feel encouraged for reading, they’re more likely to read more.