Inculcating the joy of reading


Inculcating the joy of reading

Children have fewer incentives to read today as we are providing them with a lot of gadgets and gizmos which entertain them passively. As parents we have a big role to play in motivating children to read, says  Mary Chelladurai.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot in Treasure Island. Best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day” – Walt Disney.
Listen to this four year old toddler screech “No! I don’t want you to read to me!”  The parent may think that their four year old will never like to read for s/he does not enjoy being read to.

They feel that this is an early trait showing that the child will be a poor learner all his or her life’. Often parents of young children find it a big challenge to introduce the joy of reading or the joy of being read too, to their children, many wonder why can’t my child, who is four, sit still when I’m trying to read to him.  

Remember your little one can refuse because the choice of the story or the book is not what s/he likes. Or s/he does not understand all the words or the story chosen is of little interest.  It is wise to find out the underlying reason for the child’s refusal, address this and the child will begin to invite you to read more often.  Often we hear little older children say they don’t have time to read anything other than schoolbooks. These are the same children who clock around 12 to 18 hours of TV every week, and are unable to find 20 minutes a day to read.

 Looking at all this I would like to say that in today’s urban environment, children have fewer incentives to read as we are packing our children with a lot of media gizmos which entertain them passively. So, as parents we have a big role to play in motivating children to read. Reading is the first step towards learning. The more a child is read to, the more the child gets interested in listening, learning and concentrating in later years.  This will enable a child to perform well at school, and prepare them for subsequent career. 

It is interesting  to note that many studies have shown that foetuses can recognize their mother's voice from the womb, so reading  can start from the womb itself, you can actually make reading aloud a habit while you're still pregnant. Once the baby arrives, you could start reading to your newborn, though the babe won’t understand your words, but hearing your voice stimulates an interest in sounds and helps to develop listening and concentration skills.

These skills are a pre-requisite for good academic performance in later years. 

* Reading enhances vocabulary: Children during toddlerhood are hungry for words.  Read a lot to them and this is a good time to feed them with words through reading aloud to them. Increase the child’s vocabulary by talking and reading. Let your interactions not stop with baby-talk.  It is normally expected that at two/two and a half years, a young child’s vocabulary is probably two to three hundred words. By five years of age, a child can have thousands and number of thousands. This entirely depends on your reading and talking to your child. By equipping a toddler with enough words can indeed spleen the temper tantrums down.
 * Introduce good books at an early age:  We as a country have a rich tradition of storytelling, especially grandparents lull children to sleep with their long drawn stories, Encourage this, as this will help children to build large vocabulary, this will act as a pre-requisite for language and literacy development.

* Make reading into a bonding time:  No matter what your baby's age is, reading together is a great opportunity for cuddling and bonding.  This will soak up the physical and emotional warmth of reading. Children will look forward for these precious moments, the security of being curled up, safe in parent’s arms, as they read them a favourite book.  The child will experience the positive stimulation for reading; it will also develop the love for reading and acquire the tools required for reading i.e. language and concentration. 

* Create a cosy place for reading:  Ideally invest in a big comfy chair, where you both can fit cosily but comfortably. This will be like a return 'to the womb' where the child is physically close to you. When close, they feel the warmth, the safety and feel loved. This is what reading is all about basically associating positive feelings. Something a child wants to return to - again and again. Make bed-times, story times and bonding times.

n Be a good role model: Let your child see you reading rather than watching a TV serial.  The more you read by yourself the more the child will also want to get engrossed turning the pages of a book, and at times coming with an open page and requesting you to read. It is good to suggest reading when your child wants to be entertained.  Kindly avoid making TV an entertainer and a baby sitter.

* Make special time for reading: Make reading a routine and make a definite time to read every day. It is not encouraging for a child of five to be given a book and told to ‘read’. Remember, learning to read can be compared to learning to cycle- a child does this in a slow pace and one day rides and never forgets this for a lifetime.

* Let the child select the book: Make allowance for your child to decide which book she wants to read or read too.  As years roll by, you have to keep a watch on whether your child is reading material that is age appropriate.

Keep an undisturbed time for reading:  Read softly and gently, let this hour of reading be peaceful and rejuvenating for you as well, do not make this as another mundane routine; children can easily sense the tone of your voice.  Use this time to wind down from a busy day for you and the child.  When children want you to read the same story repeatedly do not get annoyed, repetition is the way of the toddlers.  

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