People who read this column sometimes ask me — what will I do with your book recommendations if my child does not even like to read? How do I get her interested in books?
Monkey see, monkey do. More often than not, children of readers tend to pick up reading more easily. So perhaps, you could set an example! It also helps if the child's friends are readers — they love discussing books with each other.
Start early. Read to little children, even before they can understand what they're hearing. They love all the attention and the feeling of cuddling up with a book. It doesn't matter what you read. Reminds me of the time my cousin read out to my then 18-month-old daughter from his Accounting textbook. She sat still for fifteen minutes "listening" to him. But, don't fret if you did not start early, because it's never too late! Reading to your child is a lovely way to get them interested. A friend reads out the first chapter of a book to the child and leaves it hanging at an exciting point. The child cannot help but pick up the book and read it himself!
Let them choose. If you love dosas and your parents stuffed only idlis down your throat, wouldn't you rebel? Let your child choose what she wants to read. Take them to a good children's library/bookstore and let them pick up what they want to. Expose them to diverse books. Leave books lying around where children can see them. They might be intrigued enough to leaf through them.
The right kind of book. They might not yet have found the topic/genre that interests them. Maybe non-fiction is what rocks their boat. Perhaps a topic that you yourself think is dry, will end up exciting them. Once again, make sure they have access to as many books as possible.
Children go through phases. Maybe your child wants to read only Geronimo Stilton or Wimpy Kid or only princess books. It's okay. Most likely, their friends are reading that too. The phase will pass. Wait until they get the obsession out of their system!
Explore different formats. Nothing wrong in reading books on an e-reader like Kindle. Or audiobooks, if your child prefers listening, rather than reading. One child I know didn't read because the size of the books overwhelmed him. On a kindle, the size wasn't apparent and he was more willing to start a book.
Wait. Some children don't get hooked onto reading until much later than their peers. Just wait it out, but don't stop providing them with books.
Having said all this, some of us just don't like to read. And will never learn to love to read. That's okay too. Books are wonderful, but that's not all there is to life!
The author got a master’s degree in energy engineering and worked in the IT industry until her daughter dragged out the writer lurking inside her. She has written eight books for children and can be reached at www.shruthi-rao.com
GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that gives you a peek into the wondrous world of children's books. Hop on! Or as Alice did, plunge into the rabbit hole.