How To Make Your Child A Reader

2 year(s) ago
How To Make Your Child A Reader

"Ordinary people have big TVs. Extraordinary people have big libraries." - Robin Sharma

This was a quote that popped up on Facebook recently. There is no denying that reading benefits. Reading sets fire to imagination. One can never be bored with a book around. In these times of sensory overload, where a child has the attention span of a gnat, a book can hold them in one place - and in the process calm their lil minds and helps them unwind.

So how do you go about making a child a reader?

First things first. If your child never sees you read, he or she will probably grow up with the attitude that books are boring. Groucho Marx rightly said, "I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the other room and read a book."  Lead your child to take interest in books. Show them that there are other means of entertainment other than the TV.

Don't be overwhelmed by the fact that your child has a lot of studying to do, and that he should not ‘waste time' with story books. Books build vocabulary. Through stories we can help children understand the world around them better. Have a designated time for reading for pleasure. Bedtime for little kids. Half an hour after school and longer on weekends for older kids.

Reading aloud is a great activity for parents to enjoy with their child. The child will begin to look forward to this routine and eventually love books too. It's ok if the child picks the same book every time. Children gain a sense of comfort and security by repeating the same story again and again.

Invest in a book shelf and start off a mini library at home. The main objective of the bookshelf should be accessibility to your child. He should be able to pick out a book without your intervention. If you still have your Encyclopaedia Britannica in the showcase, under lock and key, now is a good time to think about throwing the doors open to your child.

If you are wondering if a young child can take care of his books - show him how to. Start babies off with chunky board books. Let him get the hang of flipping pages, looking at pictures. Make sure the books are glossy to be able to wipe off any spills and stains.  Tell them no scribbling and doodling.

Cloth books with texture (velvety pages, grainy etc.) are great for visual and sensorial development and so are plastic bath books. Choose books with bright colours and pictures. Introduce one book at a time and let the toddler enjoy the book to its satisfaction. They probably will discover something new each time. Sit with the toddler and point pictures and name them aloud. Sing aloud the rhymes. Then slowly graduate to simple story lines.

As the child grows make him a member of a neighbourhood library. Take your child to bookstores and let them pick out books for themselves as a treat. Stories are not gender specific. Try not to always veer them towards stories with ‘morals'. Remember reading is for pleasure. If they enjoy silly tales by authors such as Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss, don't worry about what they will learn from it. There will be several lessons that they will learn in a subtle and humorous way.

Another way to get children to read is to initially introduce books with their favourite cartoon character. This is sure to get them all excited.

Pick themes that your child likes. If your child likes dinosaurs, look for such books. Don't buy him a book about rivers and expect him to devour it immediately.

Some publishers personalize books and include the child's name in the plot of the story. Any kid is bound to get a kick out of this.

As the child gets older, don't be restricted by age groups. Your child may continue to love picture books and may be ready for slightly longer stories or elaborate fantasy stories. Let your child show you the way. Read through the book, if you are unsure of the content.

And though the child has learnt to read, you might still like to read to the child - just to continue a cosy routine.

Yes, books can be expensive. But look at it this way - the cost of a book may equal to that of a pizza. Still, if you feel you do not want to spend a lot of money on story books, look out for gently used books at second hand bookstores. You might find some second hand books at online bookstores too. This option works best for imported foreign titles, and if you have done your homework and know your titles, you may get lucky find some rare ones.

The internet offers good recommendations and reading lists at our fingertip when you search for books.  Online shopping makes all titles accessible. So try browsing with your child and make them a reader today.

Click on the link to watch a parenting video for tips to make your child a reader.

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Vidya JS
Vidya is a full-time mom of two little kids. In previous avatars, she worked in the Public Relations industry in Bangalore and Chennai for 10 years. She is a trained classical dancer and has a degree in communication and literature. She loves art and culture and is always looking for ways to give the cartoons a break and introduce a bit of culture to children in fun ways. When not running behind the kids, she fantasizes about hour long foot massages, having uninterrupted cups of tea and traveling light.

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