Lessons for parents

Picture books are great to begin with but not so great to carry on. Many of them have repetitive or rhyming words with a great story and enough clues for children to read on their own.

Judging a book by its cover holds true in the case of young readers. Unless children are attracted by the book cover, they will not want to read the book. Choose books with their favourite characters or themes. Walker Books have some of the best pictures and stories. They are a big hit with children because of their creative characterisation and engaging story-telling style. Books like Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell or Where's My Teddy?  by Jez Alborough can be read over and over and children love it every time.

Physical characteristics of the book matter like the book size, number of pages and print size. There are many books in the market which have good stories, but unfortunately the print size is very small. It is important to make sure that your child is reading a good print size, especially when she is able to read on her own. If the book size is too big, children may hesitate to pick it up for the fear of failure. Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, who have authored Guiding Readers and Writers, say if children find the print size too difficult to read, chances are that the book may never be read.

Does the book offer a good challenge? Every child’s reading ability varies. Teachers and parents together try to understand the reading stage the child is at and pick up books accordingly. The books should offer a challenge which the child is able to meet. If the challenge is too tough, then the child may not want to attempt it. Many books come with age recommendations.

Is the book age specific – in terms of story idea and language? If the book is either too easy or too difficult, the child may not want to continue reading. Children don’t like to read if the plot is difficult to follow or if the story is either sad or scary or even confusing. Even if you don’t read the books your kids are reading, you should know the plot as that will help you pick up books that will keep them absorbed.

Usually, kids pick up books because of the fascinating cover or interesting title. Help them know the author they are reading, so that the next time you can point out another book by the same author and help the child make a choice. Help them understand that there will be a story summary on the book jacket.

Sometimes, if the child has read a book, she would like to read the entire series. Don’t get hassled by that. It is a passing phase, so just let her enjoy the experience.
More importantly, set an example. Read books yourself and talk to kids about the books you read. Tell them why you like/don’t like a particular book. Show them your enthusiasm about books and they will be enthused themselves.

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