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Introduce your child to the joys of reading

Mar 8, 2012 : 18:29 IST
It’s a good idea to get young children to read books appropriate for their age. Sudha Subramanian gives you more tips on nurturing a book lover.

So, your kid is reading and wants to read a lot more? Do you know, what books your child can read? It is a maze out there and the more you see, the more books there are and the more confused the child and the parent is.

Welcome to the world of books. Many of us have grown up reading Enid Blyton, Chandamama, Tinkle and the ACK series. We thrived on Indrajal Comics, Chacha Chowdhury and thought that was what children’s literature was all about. Unfortunately, most of us still continue to believe so. However, there is good news. There are some great books waiting to be discovered by us other than the highly popular Horrid Henry, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants.

Today, many of the popular series are being written by ghost writers who churn out stories that are similar and familiar. We, as adults, should help our children spread their reading web and help them have a reading graph that is a gradual curve.

Secondly, if your child is an avid reader by six, then, chances are that you will be faced with more challenges than you can possibly imagine.

Here are some suggestions: The golden rule to help an avid reader is to enrol him/her in a good, well-stocked library. A library is a great source of books. Children also learn to take care of them and return the books on time.

Get familiar with the children’s literature section in a book store. Spend time and understand the authors and the kind of books that are available. Remember, a book that is on the best sellers list may not be something your child may fancy, and it is perfectly fine. So, explore and understand children’s literature before deciding on the book.

Even if your child can read perfectly, you don’t have to stop reading stories to him/her. Grab the opportunity to read to the child. They actually enjoy them and you get to spend more time with them.

If you borrow books from the library, and if your child doesn’t want to read some of them, it is fine. It is okay to return the book unfinished to the library. Book reading is meant to be fun and not a chore.

The golden rule to choosing books is to know your child’s taste. Some kids love mysteries. Others are into magic and some others into animal stories. Choose according to your child’s interest. Speak to the local librarian to get a good understanding. Or, walk into a bookstore, to know the latest books. The problem is most of us have little or no knowledge of children’s literature which makes us leave the choice of book to the child. A child is not equipped with knowledge to choose.

There are some books that are beyond a child’s age. It is always better to get an understanding of the book before you let your child read it.

If your child can read, don’t rush him to the next level. I know kids who have read the Harry Potter series by the age of 7. The child is still young to grapple with certain adult concepts at this stage. Instead, help the child choose books. Teach the skills and let the child explore. Let them explore and enjoy the vast literature that is available.

Try to bring a balance in the kind of books you choose for your children. Let them have the right mix of fiction, picture books and non-fiction. Remember, if a child is an avid comic reader, he/she may not take to reading books of fiction easily. However, the other way round is pretty easy. So, indulge in reading out a lot of books to kids than letting them read comics alone.

Some of the book recommendations :

*If your child is into mysteries he may enjoy Box Car Children and A-Z mysteries.
*Magic Tree House Series and The Andrew Lost series — are a fun way to enhance knowledge through fiction.
*For those into Science Fiction — Astrosaurs by Steve Cole is a great start.
*Introduce great writers to children through their books — Michael Marpugo and Roald Dahl
*For those imaginative and creative ones — Nate the Great series, Stanley Lambchop series, Little Nose, Boobela and Worm and Cows in Action are heart warming.
*Harry the poisonous Centipede by Lynne Reid Banks, Emily Eyefinger / Selby the Dog series by Duncan Ball are books worthy of reading.

Today, Indian writers are not far behind. The Children’s Book industry is booming and these Indian authors, weave stories keeping in mind the childhood Indian kids experience. Imagine reading books about snowfall and autumn when most of India is experiencing bright sunshine or kids eating bagels and pancakes where as, we are more familiar with dosas and idlis.

There are some very good books published by Zubaan, Penguin, Tulika and Tara.
Books that are worth taking a look at: (for 8-10 years)

*Growing up in Pandupur by Adithi and Chatura Rao
*The Magic Drum/Grandma's Bag of Stories by Sudha Murthy
*Poachers in Paradise /Rebels in Rajastan by Shamim Padamsee

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