“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free”
— Frederick Douglass
The relation between a child’s development and a healthy reading habit is proven. Reading is a practice that every parent wishes their child would invest in. Books help kids develop a positive imagination and creative thinking. While some little bookworms take it up without any prodding, there are always children who find reading boring, or simply difficult at times. Nurturing a love for reading in children, especially reluctant ones, might seem like an overwhelming responsibility. But fret not! Here are 10 ways to inculcate the reading habit in your child.
1.Picking the right books
Children’s books are available in all genres, shapes, and sizes. Do not limit your child’s reading experience to a certain category. Indulge in your kids’ passions and explore all kinds of books based on their interests. Look for interactive reading resources, with not just words, images and illustrations, but with pop-ups, buttons or different textures that help in tactile stimulation. Such books are more approachable for children since adult supervision is not an absolute necessity.
2. Read to your child
The importance of reading aloud with your child cannot be stressed enough. Cuddle them in your arms, start reading stories to them daily and let them get involved in the process. Alternating between chapters, allow your child to read aloud under your supervision. Ask them to predict what might come next to keep them hooked. Don’t hesitate to make reading fun using sound effects and noises, helping them connect sounds to words. The more interesting your storytimes are, the more your child’s love for reading will grow.
3. Lead by example
It’s no secret that children imitate their parents. It’s how they learn. Seeing their parents or older siblings with a newspaper, a magazine, or even a cooking book, will allow children to realize the importance of reading. Be a role model. If you are an avid reader, make sure you read in front of your child. Your love for reading is sure to catch their enthusiasm too.
4. Make it a habit
Assigning a time and place, to practice reading daily, will help turn it into a routine habit. Set aside a fixed time for reading every day and follow it strictly. Most parents prefer bedtime, but find something that works for you and your child. Set up a cosy reading nook for them, with some comfy seating and lots of books. Children who grow up around books learn to love reading earlier than those who grow up in the absence of essential reading resources.
5. Maintain a personal library
Talking about growing up around books, it always helps to have a private collection at home. Easy access to reading material familiarizes children with impulsive reading, which might otherwise only be a task assigned to them at school. Allow your kids to pick what they want to read from your handy collection. Invest in a good dictionary even though it takes children time to learn how to navigate through one. If getting your child hooked on books is your aim, looking up words, together with them, in the dictionary is a smarter option than simply using Google search.
6. Discuss the books
Reading through the pages and leaving it at that is not a good practice. Instead encourage your child to talk about what they have seen, read and experienced. Ask them their opinions about the book, the author and which parts he/she liked or disliked. Compare it with other books and help them identify what makes each book special. Opening up dialogue will also help parents identify what kind of books excites their kids.
7. Relate reading to life
Reading need not always be about sitting down with a good book. Help children relate what they read with the people and objects they encounter in real life. Ordinary things that might seem obvious to adults might be much more significant to a child. Pointing out such seemingly fruitless observations and relating them back to a story your child has read will immensely help in making them more invested in books.
8. Take them to the library
A restless toddler amidst thousands of books might sound like an ordeal for most parents. But visiting the local library or bookstore with your child offers them a whole new world of choices, of books and authors. Let them roam free and take their pick from this treasure trove. Certain libraries also host story-time sessions and reading hours, giving your child a chance to learn good reading habits while watching other kids do the same.
9. Revisit the favourites
Unlike adults, children seldom get tired of reading the same story over and over again because they can spot things that they may have missed in the previous reading. It helps children build confidence, vocabulary, and fluency. Rereading also allows them to find more meaning in the text, eventually growing attached to the story. It’s a new experience every time!
10. Give it time
Not all children will learn to love and show interest in reading early on. The key is not to force it. As with most other habits and skills, children need to be eased into a sense of comfort with reading. Do not get frustrated if your child has difficulty reading and comprehending a passage. Take a step back and see where he or she is struggling. Help them if possible but if not, trust them to figure it out on their own. As parents, the worst thing you can do is force your child to read, turning an enjoyable activity into a dreaded chore.