“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy
We are so keen for our child to have the best in life – whether it be education, extra curricular activities, toys, clothes, food, etc. But one of the best gifts that we as parents can give our children is to make them readers. Books opens out a whole new world for children. It increases their creativity, stimulates their mind, makes them thinkers and sets them up for life! Bill Gates credits his success to the fact that he read as a child, “I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.”
Being convinced about the importance of reading is the easy part. But the question that most parents ask is, “How do we make our child a reader?”
I have three children, and over the lockdown, this is how I find my children, a lot of the day:
We bought them the entire 21 series of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and in a few weeks they finished all the books and are now on the second read of it! To be honest, my kids were never avid readers and since both my husband and I love reading, this used to make me quite sad. But one fine magical day, it happened! And here are some of the reasons why I think it did:
1. Read to them
Literally the day my children came back from the hospital, we started reading to them! Books have always been a part of their lives. But don’t worry if you haven’t been reading to your children. Its never to late to start. Emile Buchwald says, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Reading is a wonderful bonding experience for parent and child. Many times my husband would spend hours reading to our preschoolers before they went to bed. And not just picture story books, but adventure stories like Enid Blyton’s and Chronicles of Narnia. It transports children into a world of imagination and sets the stage for them wanting to read when they are developmentally ready to.
2. Buy books that they are interested in
If your child is not interested in reading, maybe you don’t have the right books in your house. In the words of Frank Serafini, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” See what interests them and try and find books that they will enjoy reading. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some great books for preschoolers.
3. Allow them to be bored
In today’s fast paced age of easy entertainment. Children constantly want to be entertained and what they want most is the TV or a video game. But don’t give into that. Sometimes allowing them to be bored, will force them to try something new and maybe even pick up a book. There’s a famous line in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl) “So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
4. Model Reading
Children pick up what they see. Many of us have lost our love for books or just don’t have the time. But as a conscious decision, pick up a book and allow your children to see you read. Maybe you can have a reading time in the day and encourage your children to read with you as well.
5. Set the Stage
Never force your child to read, otherwise they may develop a distaste for it. “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” -Kate DiCamillo. Although we mustn’t force them to read, we can’t just sit back and expect them to just start reading. We must set the stage. Create an environment in the house where your child desires to read by doing the above. And patiently wait for that one magical day when your child enters the world of books by themselves!