How to Inculcate the Habit of Reading in Children
The excitement of sitting on grandpa’s lap and listening to his age-old stories is something that will live long in your memory. Today’s generation of kids have so many resources available at hand when it comes to reading, but inspiring and encouraging them to read is where the challenge lies. Here are some interesting ways to inculcate the habit of reading books in children.
Start reading when your child is six months old
The optimal time to start reading to your child is when he/she turns six months old. This is the period when a child’s auditory and visual senses start developing, so it is advisable to start interacting with him/her through the form of visuals and sounds. You can begin with reading activities that involve the movement of objects like puppet shows or 3D pop-up books. Even reading heavy-set material like magazines will help, as the important thing in this stage of your child’s life is to perceive what your sound and actions are like, rather than grasp words. Remember to stay close and cuddle with your child during reading activities; it gives him/her the sense that this activity is an essential part of their development.
Make reading a fun activity
As your child grows old, his/her perception of the surroundings begins to grow stronger. A one-year-old child now has the ability to grasp basic sounds and visuals, so make reading a regular and fun activity to get your child to enjoy it. Start small; read to them simple 10-page books or books that have a strict read-learn theme. These books normally have instructions written to parents on how to make the reading more interactive. The better you are at storytelling, the more fun your child will have during a reading session. Encourage your child to be a part of the read as well; ask him/her simple questions during the reading session and make noises and actions based on how the book portrays a scene.
Pictures before words
If there is one thing common to all children’s books, it is the use of illustrations. Famous children’s books like, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear’ and ‘What Do You See’ are known to develop basic logical and spatial abilities in children because of their heavy use of illustrations. Everything from colours to shapes to sizes is used, giving children an in-depth understanding of the basic elements. Pictures not only help drive a story forward but also assist in making a more immersive experience as you read along with your child.
Create a reading environment
One of the quickest ways to ensure that your child develops an interest in reading is to create an environment that is reading-friendly. This can be achieved in many ways; you could decorate a certain part of your house with classic children’s book characters, funny words and glow-in-the-dark letters. You could make your child practice reading every day by introducing a reading hour. You could even make reading a leisure activity by downloading an eBook version of all the best children’s books and taking it along with you on family trips.
One book format that is becoming increasingly popular is audio books. In fact, the concept of audio books has been in existence since the days of Charles Dickens, who wrote some books that have to be specifically read aloud. Audio books are based on the art of storytelling. The author employs a narrator to retell the entire story through speech. If your child has a low attention span, audio books are the best alternative. Studies have proven that listening is more distraction-free than reading, so your child will spend an ample amount of time immersed in an audio book due to the shift in the storytelling experience. Audio books can also introduce your child to how certain words are pronounced and strung together to form sentences.
Join a book club
If your growing child gets more comfortable around a larger social atmosphere, you can take advantage of that and enrol him/her in a book club. There are a growing number of book clubs in India, with each club offering something unique to a select age group of readers. Try to find book club meet-ups that involve parent child-reading sessions or one that regularly conduct storytelling sessions. Book clubs are just another way of giving your child the right exposure towards an extensive reading environment, where he/she can make friends with other children who have similar interests.
Libraries are the home away from home
Libraries can be a child’s best friend if they are introduced to it at the right time. For starters, when the child is young, take the child to iconic libraries and get them acquainted with it.
Libraries are aptly called the haven of books and all major libraries include a children’s section where both the atmosphere and collection of books invite a pleasurable reading experience. Make it a habit to visit libraries every weekend with your child and give them the freedom to explore the large collection of books, even outside of the children’s section.
Relate the book to a real life example
It is a well-known fact that a lot of authors base the stories of their novels on real life experiences. Creating a personal experience for the reader is achieved when authors are able to write from their heart, honest as can ever be. Children can prove to be one of the most difficult audiences to write for, as they have that unique ability to question everything. When you create a reading experience by relating aspects of the book to real life situations, you will be able to subconsciously create a link between the book and real life in your child’s mind. Doing this gives your child a stronger sense of understanding and a really healthy dose of imagination, which is essential in their early growing years.
Mix and match book genres and forms
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest advantages children of the 21st Century have is the massive exposure they get to multiple forms of literature. As a parent, you must learn how to exploit these various forms to give your child the maximum learning curve. Be it eBooks, audio books, short stories, poems or novels, the more your child is exposed to, the better it is for his/her overall mental development. Also, if your child shows interest in multiple book genres, enhance that interest by letting them explore the many genres of fiction and non-fiction writing.
Make gifting a book a habit
As your child’s interest in reading grows, you can surprise him/her by buying a book as a gift. Avid readers know that nothing beats the pleasure of picking up a signed copy of their favourite author’s novel. While it may be tough to pick up a signed copy, purchasing a book for your child will give him/her the confidence and increased interest to read more. You could even set up a mini library at home as your child’s collection of books increases. Doing this also ensures a sense of nostalgia; your child may one day open the old shelf of books as an adult and pass it on to the next generation of happy readers.
Are you looking for the perfect set of books to inculcate the habit of reading in your child? Read our list of 9 bedtime stories you must read to your child. Have you written your own set of stories for children? Become a popular children’s book author by publishing your book through Notion Press.