“The world belongs to those who read.” -Rick Holland
Reading habits are encouraged across all cultures and age groups. Through reading, a person can master skills and qualities that act as essential assets for a lifetime. Developing a reading habit from an early age is therefore crucial for the overall development of a child. A child undertakes an activity only when it answers an inner need or fulfils a purpose. So, to successfully raise a child as an inquisitive reader, focus on their area of interest. Making reading child-led and helping them develop a positive, mindful relationship with BOOKS is the key.
Why is reading from an early age important?
It is easier to establish new habits at a young age. When a person starts reading in her formative years, it becomes an indispensable part of her existence. The benefits of encouraging reading from a young age are:
- It enhances imaginative and creative abilities.
Fiction and fantasy books introduce the child to a world that differs from reality. This new world acts as a stimulant and improves the child’s imagination and creativity.
- It develops emotional faculties.
An author’s work always contains a range of emotions. A child feels a connection with the characters of the book and becomes sensitive to such emotional variations.
- It improves communication skills.
As a reader, the child is exposed to a myriad of emotions and situations. Consequently, the child’s comprehension skills and self-expressions improve.
- It widens perspective.
Books contain infinite information. When exposed to this sea of information, a child learns to view things from multiple angles and develops a curious nature.
How to develop reading habits in children?
To develop your children’s interest in reading, introduce it in the guise of a game or as a ceremonial ritual. Just as a game is played according to rules, and rituals are performed with a sense of purpose and ceremony. Similarly, setting the grounds for healthy reading habits can be done in the following five ways:
- Design a space dedicated to reading!
This space can be in the corner of your child’s bedroom or even the living room. Decorate this space with a bookshelf and posters of famous book characters. Make this space inviting for your child by placing colourful cushions, beautiful lights, and a comfortable couch. Most importantly, make this a read-only zone with no distractions. You can also make reading a part of the morning and night-time ritual when the child is feeling relaxed. If possible, make books easily accessible all around the house.
Psst! And I am close to executing what Dr Seuss says “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.”
2. Let your child pick the book!
Visit bookstores with your child and let her or him choose the books. This way, the child will feel a sense of independence. The child will also relate the book picking activity to a fun event and look forward to it every time. Get your child enrolled in reading groups and libraries; get her/him a library card. Many cities have lucrative options of doorstep libraries, too; they deliver the books home as per the reader’s reading list requirements and furnish new book sets on a monthly or quarterly basis. Explore it in your cities! If you want to know one in Delhi/NCR, let me know in the comment section below.
3. Be an active participant while reading a book!
Make reading a book thrilling by reading aloud, enacting roles, making storyboards, and using different voices and facial expressions for characters. Maybe sing along the rhyming sentences! My little one, Pratham, prefers me being a rapper to Dr Seuss’ books. I can’t forget Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss! It’s fun, though!
Gift a picture dictionary or flashcards to your child and use them during the reading session. This way, the child will grasp things faster. The experience will also become more enjoyable. Once the child finishes a book, inquire about her or his favourite part, the things she or he disliked, and what would she or he like to read next.
4. Introduce your child to diverse genres!
Encourage your child to read fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poetry, prose, comic books, and historical or geographical books. At times, the child gets too absorbed into the magical world opened by a fictional or fantasy book. The new world may detach a child from her or his reality and lead to isolation and loneliness. When a child reads books of various genres, she or he can maintain a balance between fiction and reality and prevent the onset of “anti-social” behavior. Introducing diverse genres is our simple solution for those who maintain this critical concern towards reading.
However, in my personal opinion, your sky can be pink; who can or should have a say over that? And seeing things differently liberates you, gives you the chance to explore and decide on them for yourselves, not make you aloof!
5. Be the pillar of support for your child!
Every child is unique. Therefore, each child has a different reading pace, reading choice, and intellectual prowess. But if your child is struggling, identify the problem and provide a solution as soon as possible. Not having a strong foundation of phonics and a good understanding of words and letters is one of the common reasons. A child might have a slow reading pace or may have trouble with the vocabulary of the book. Re-assure your child of her or his capabilities and help her or him overcome the obstacles.
What do children overcome through reading?
- Fear of public speaking
Many children develop reading habits but are unable to sustain them. They lose interest in reading due to many reasons.
- An increase in the difficulty level is the most common one.
- As they grow up, they prioritize other activities.
To maintain the reading habit in your child,
- Keep a literacy-rich environment
- Parents can also keep book reading as their ‘Me-time’ practice. The family can together have a reading time.
- Don’t forget to compliment your child on finishing a book, emphasize the importance of reading as they grow up, and
- Keep the ritual of reading aloud to children even when they become independent readers.
Now, I’d take your leave by these parting words…
HELP THE CHILDREN TO MAKE THEIR READING A PASSION BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ADULTS OF THE FUTURE GENERATION. AND THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE AS POWERFUL AS READING!
And enjoy the sweet treat of reading with your children and happy parenting! 😊