We learn a great deal by reading continuously. The habit of reading is one of the best gifts we can give our children. Some children take to it naturally while some others need a bit of persuasion. But once they get started, your little readers soon become independent learners. It also helps that this gives you a lot of peaceful self-time, knowing that your child is involved in a productive activity. Here are a few ways we can inculcate this wonderful habit in our children.
- Make bookstore trips exciting – To a little reader, the idea of visiting a bookstore should start sounding like a visit to the candy store. In the beginning, you might even have to combine bookstore trips with candy store trips to add a bit of incentive. Pick ‘bookstore days’ for the month. Talk about the upcoming date during family meals to build excitement. Discuss books they might possibly want to buy during their next visit. Soon you’ll find your child counting down the days to their new read.
- Books before movies – All children love watching movies. A great way to use this opportunity is to note which book-based movies are releasing soon, and then get your child to read the book ahead of time. This will make the movie a richer experience and create a sense of excitement as they know what’s going to be in the next hit movie.
- Buy into the book series fad – Children take time to get to know characters and settings. But once they do, they are extremely invested in them. Pick a book series that has a similar setting to other stories they already like. Growing up (and maybe till date), you might have loved building a long-term relationship with characters from book series like The Famous Five, Sherlock and Watson, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven and of course, the Harry Potter characters.
- Reading around the book – A great way to extend the reading experience is to get children to read more about the book. If they’ve found a particular book exciting, get them to find out more about the author and the period it was set in. This will give your child a deeper understanding of the book and introduce them to some fun facts. Book communities like Goodreads are also great places for your children to learn more about books and talk to other children who love the same books.
- Setting times to read together – Young kids love spending time with their parents. And this is why setting a specific reading time is a great way of spending quality time together. Depending on the age of your child, you can either read to your child or read the same book with your child, one page or chapter at a time. You can discuss the book as you both progress. Even if you both are reading different books, you can plan on spending Saturday afternoons reading with lemonade or eating the cake you baked together in the morning.
- Storytelling – Although not strictly a reading activity, storytelling is fuelled by and fuels reading. You can plan storytelling nights, where your child can narrate the stories they read recently. This gives you an idea of their engagement and comprehension level of the books they are reading. It will also strengthen your child’s recall and speech skills.
- Bringing books alive – If you are reading plays or short stories with your children, you can get them to act these out for friends and family. Get siblings in on it or pull in neighborhood children. Get them to use hand puppets or make simple costumes. This way, books become material for the next fun activity.
- Start a Book Club – What can be better than starting a #LittleReaders book club? When you meet other parents, talk about their child’s reading habits. The kids can start a book exchange program. This way, your child gets a chance to read what their friends are reading and talk about it with someone their own age. They can even choose to do some of the activities we mentioned above together. Books become part of playtime, and that’s the best way to get children to read more.
Remember that reading is not just an activity, it’s a way of life. Once you get your child started, they won’t stop. And this will help them grow into informed, aware and intelligent adults. Fair warning, though you may have trouble with your #littlereader sneakily reading way past bedtime!
Radhika Kale is a learning and content design consultant. After years of working a stressful office life, she now enjoys working from home in her pajamas with a cat on either side. She loves learning and loves helping others learn.