Do you see signs of a bookworm in your child? In the tech-driven world, here’s how to sustain her interest in books and encourage her to read.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – American Academic Charles William Eliot
If books can play the role of a friend, counsellor and teacher, shouldn’t we encourage our children to embrace them? Today, with the lure of technology, most children are hooked to gadgets. So, how do we get them to read?
Read books: If your child sees you with a book in your hand during every free moment of yours, she will be inspired to pick up one too. Also, introduce books to your child even when she is only a few months old. Read to her from bath-tub books, board books, musical books, tactile books and so on. Once she grows up, you can read aloud picture books to her. Then you can move on to reading along with her. Finally, you can get her to read on her own.
Gift books: While choosing gifts for birthdays and other special occasions, ensure that books are your priority and your child’s too. Go in for a wide variety of books. Of course, make sure they are age-appropriate. Books are treasures that your child will cherish even after she grows up. Let her collection grow along with her.
Design reading corners: Make sure there are quiet and comfortable reading corners in your house. A bay window, a hammock in the garden, a stone bench in the balcony, or an alcove in the living area can prove to be ideal places to set up your reading corner. Bean bags, rugs, cushions, recliners can all serve the purpose of providing a cosy feel in the corner. By designing such reading corners, you will be able to encourage your child to settle down comfortably and enjoy a good read.
Provide storage for books: Wherever possible, place shelves and book racks so that you and your children can pick up your books and leave them back there. Also, when the books catch your child’s eye every time he passes by, he will be motivated to pick up one and read it.
Enrol in a library: Of course, it may not be possible to buy all the books that you want to for your child. So, the best thing would be to enrol her in the local library. Take her along until she is old enough to go on her own and choose the books she wants to read. You can also have book-pooling, just as we have car-pooling. Family members and friends can borrow each other’s books to read. That way, you may not have to spend much on books. In fact, you could even set up your own circulating library in your family or friends’ circle.
Participate in literary clubs: By being a part of literary clubs, your child will get an opportunity to discuss the books he reads, debate about the plots, and analyse the characters. This again, will motivate him to read more and more.
Form family reading circles: Nothing like forming family reading circles. A group of members in your extended family can form a circle and come up with a list of books to read within a period. They can even meet to discuss the books. Occasionally, they can also organise book-reading sessions. All these activities will only keep your child hooked to books.
Allocate daily reading time: Set aside a particular time every day for reading. Ensure that there are no disturbances during that time; ban screens and phones. If the entire family engages in reading during a particular time slot every day, it will keep your child interested in reading.
Create book lists: Compile a reading list for the family. Get your child to choose the books she wants to read and include them in the list. Make sure to include various genres. Keep in mind that the titles should be age-appropriate.
Draw up a reading plan: Along with the reading list, you can also come up with a reading plan for say, six months or a year. That’ll motivate your child to keep reading towards a goal. It’ll also provide some healthy competition within the family to see who reads the maximum number of books within a stipulated period.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj