How To Raise A Reader
It is never too early to introduce your children to the fantastic world of books. Parents who read to their children while they are tiny tots and infants often see them grow up to be voracious readers.
However, one mistake that parents often make is that they turn reading into a boring, “you-must-read-because-I-say-so” chore. Another common mistake is that they force their choice of literature on their children without taking into consideration their hobbies and interests. Such tactics can make children lose their interest in books and deprive them of developing a lifetime habit that can be fulfilling and exhilarating.
There are a few points that should be kept in mind when it comes to inculcating a lifelong reading habit in children.
Do not rush them to finish books. Some children are quick readers while others plod along at their own pace. Do not criticize or berate them for how fast or slow they may read. If your child complains that a book is too boring or too difficult, change it or encourage them to read it a few chapters at a time.
Schedule a regular time during the day for reading. Some children prefer to read before going to bed while others prefer to read during the day. It is better not to introduce any other activity that interferes with their reading time.
For young children, 30 minutes of reading per day is a good start while older children should be encouraged to read for longer period of time. While reading, TV, computers and other gadgets should be switched off so that the story can be savored and understood without distractions.
Take children to book stores and libraries to browse for books. Help them select books, keeping in mind appropriate reading level, their interests and suitable topics. One tip to help younger children select a book is to make them read a random page. If they cannot understand 5 to 8 words on a single page then the book might be too hard for pleasure reading.
Have plenty of books, children’s magazines, and other reading material around the house for children to read. Picture dictionaries, children’s encyclopedias and illustrated books can offer hours of educational entertainment to children.
Connect reading with other activities. For example if children have visited a museum, hospital or beach, buy them books related to these themes. While traveling, ask children to read maps, street signs and advertisement boards. While eating in a restaurant, encourage them to browse the menu. For an inquisitive mind, cereal boxes, juice cartons and manuals of electric appliances can be interesting reading material. Similarly, word search, anagrams and crossword puzzle books also encourage children to sit with a book in their hands while enhancing their vocabulary.
Let your children see you read. Read the newspaper with your morning tea, read a book before going to bed and read magazines in between so that children start associating free time with reading. Take books along with you while traveling. This way children can see you read while waiting or commuting and understand that this is a great way to pass the time that would otherwise go wasted.
Make reading fun and memorable. Read a book aloud to young toddlers with sound effects and appropriate facial expressions. Discuss story, plot and characters with older children. Reward reading with more reading opportunities. As soon as a book is finished, stop by a book store or library to buy a new one. Allocate a special place in your home where children can keep their books and take pride in watching their collection grow.
Award-winning children’s author and teacher, Emilie Buchwald once stated, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Nurture a love of reading in children when they are young and it will be habit that will last a lifetime.
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About Gulrukh Tausif
Gulrukh Tausif is a freelance writer who discovered the love for the written word at a very young age. She is an avid reader and writes for a number of on-line and offline publications.