Reading is our source of knowledge, our ‘door’ to the outside world and the explorative tool of different fields. Unfortunately, in the last few years book reading for children has been replaced by digital technology and new gadgets like I pad, smart phones..etc and if they do read, it will be books that are commercialized and media hyped.
Even on The World Book Day, the method of celebrating such a day consist of children and students all dressing up and taking a book into school to promote reading and most of them dress as their favorite characters, which are in fact Disney characters. While it is a great initiative to encourage children to read and enjoy books, I do believe that there is still more that can be done with further focus on the actual essence of reading
This trend has left me wondering how far do children really engage with books and how independent are they in deciding which their favorite book is?
For example, the majority of children dress as Disney’s Frozen characters, surly the fact that it is one of the most popular animation of recent time, played a major part in being chosen by children as their favorite book character.
Had Frozen been just a book without all the commercial goods, the hype and the success of its animation film, would it still receive the same attention and love by children? I doubt it because sadly the generation of today rely heavily on social media, TV and popular culture, so they are more likely to favor a book if it has been turned into a film or if it is widespread across shops and being commercially marketed.
This leaves many books on the shelf, literally, and so many great books that have real potential to be a hit are dismissed simply because they have not been targeted by great marketing campaign. Therefore, we need to follow certain steps to ensure that the future generation can cultivate a love for reading.
Set an example and Read
If we’re going to encourage children to read, we need to do it ourselves, youngsters have a habit of copying adults. Demonstrate that reading is fun so read for pleasure, information, instructions, connecting with others, and so on.
Love of books begins very early
Read to your child from the earliest age possible even if he or she is only few months and not just at bedtime. Buy board books and cloth books as some of your child’s first toys. Create a ritual of connection in which you both associate love and cuddling with reading. Reading to children during lunch entertains them enough to keep them sitting, and they are more likely to try the foods with the diversion of a book.
The Book’s Voice
Read aloud to your child, making the book’s characters have different voices will not only make the child engage with the book but it will be distinguished by the voice you are providing. For older children, this is especially important as he or she may be discouraged by their own poor reading skills. The pleasure of listening to you read, rather than struggling alone, may restore your child’s initial enthusiasm for books and reading.
Search for things your children might like to read; use their interests and hobbies as starting points and be alert to what attracts your children’s attention, even if they only look at the pictures. Then build on that interest; read a short selection aloud, or simply bring home more information on the same subject.
Reading is fun
Play games that are reading-related, it can be book quiz or spelling games played with letter tiles or dice, or board games that require players to read spaces, cards, and directions.
The active side of reading
Introduce reading as an activity with a purpose—a way to gather useful information such as making a kite, identifying a doll or stamp in your child’s collection, or planning a family trip. Basically let books be the ‘Google’ of our time as they were once upon a time.
The reality of reading
Children need to build on their reading experiences, so if a child enjoyed a book about dinosaurs, follow up with a visit to a natural history museum, or if a film of the book has been released then a cinema trip will be a great reward or simply ask the child to draw a picture of what they think the book represents.
Begin visiting the library regularly with a child from a very young age, use the time in the library to read to your child as well as to select books. Explore the children’s section together, get your child his own library card and ask a librarian to suggest books and magazines the child might enjoy.
Book reading must never be a chore or a struggle. So, introduce the bookmark; which will serve as a reminder to the youngster that you don’t have to finish a book in one sitting; you can stop after a few pages, or a chapter, and pick up where you left off at another time. Don’t try to persuade your child to finish a book he or she doesn’t like.
Recommend putting the book aside and trying another. Encourage the child to keep a book list of all the completed books with a star rating or a review; this will enhance confidence within the child and develop a sense of pride in his/her achievement.
The treasure box
Make sure the child has his/her own mini library or book shelves as a special place for them to keep their own books and treasure them.
The daily dose
Set aside a regular time for reading independent of schoolwork—as little as 10 minutes of free reading a day can help improve your child’s skills and habits. Offer other special incentives to encourage the child’s reading, such as allowing the youngster to stay up an extra 15 minutes to finish a chapter; or simply make reading a habit before bedtime.
The gift of books
On gift-giving occasions, such as birthdays, give children books as a present and encourage them to gift books to others too.
Sharing a book
Even if the child can read independently, try to read alternative page with him/her or better still read the actual book and discuss it with the child.
Once a child is of a certain age, encourage him or her to join a book club or read the same book with other friends as it will make the reading experience a collective one.
First published: April 2015