Let children pick their own books

Let children pick their own books

Children in a tram library in Kolkata. PTI

Everything comes easy when we live in a world that has an umpteen number of venues for instant gratification. The same extends to books as well. It is often difficult to wait until the story reveals its many layers. The wait is worse if it is a long story.

The need to read and explore a book through its many layers, wonder why the author chose a particular character or approach, anticipate what could happen next, is not appreciated. If children are used to instant victories and spontaneous entertainment, anything that makes them wait does not inspire excitement.

As adults, we tend to forget what it felt like to be a child. Imagine how it would feel like if your “me” time is subject to scrutiny. Telling a child that reading helps boost one’s vocabulary, improve writing, and better their performance in school can have no effect on the child.

A book that is recommended by many or looks interesting based on the blurb need not be as interesting as it claims to be. Harry Potter for instance has millions of fans around the world.

At the same time, there are several children who don’t enjoy Harry Potter as it simply does not match their interests. They may pick it up on account of peer pressure or because the parent insisted, only to realise that either they don’t like it or they are unable to understand it. The latter case indicates that the child isn’t ready for Harry Potter.

Either way, being forced to read it because it has been recommended and bought or borrowed, obviously kills even a remote interest in reading.

The need of the hour

Encouraging children to read for fun with no strings attached helps them build a positive association with reading. Accepting that there will be hits and misses while choosing books makes reading less stressful. After all, all of us have different interests and perspectives.

Creating opportunities for children to discuss books with their friends or even parents helps immensely in re-enforcing the joys of reading. Making reading books a social activity helps transform them into active readers who dig deeper, willing to wait for the story to reveal its hidden elements.

They enjoy making their own hypotheses and wait for the ending to see if their guesses are right. The process becomes a game. The satisfaction is memorable and long-lasting and that is their reward.

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