Great ways to build the reader in your child!

“Books are a man’s best friend”. Whoever said that nailed it. I’m a living example to vouch it with a seal. My childhood was replete with reading books, books associated activities, watching movies on books, making drawings out of those imagined scenes from books, etc. You name it and I will claim to have “been there, done that” in that world of books!

Now as a mother, I feel that books help my child in the same way as it did to me. It makes him relaxed, imaginative, dream and think ‘out-of-the-box’, relate to a variety of characters and situations and accept them, feel and empathize with the characters, and mostly  enjoy the journey of storytelling.

Book reading is a lovely journey that immediately transports you to a world completely alien, yet seemingly believable. You completely forget what the world outside a book holds. A good book is so captivating and like such a good friend that it engages you, while driving out every worry out of your mind. It’s magical and that’s why I have consciously imbibed the love of reading or rather this element of magic in my three year old son, who happily gets his books to me, by fail, every night, before hitting the bed.

Ranging from a minimum of three to about ten books, he can go to any extent with books. Although, most of the books are the ones that he loves to repeat every night, yet he will leave space for taking in one new story from me every day. It’s a joy to enhance his library every now and he is thrilled with any new book that lands on his lap. In fact, now I can say he is as much addicted and thrilled to read a new book as much as playing with a new toy car.

I started reading out to my kid, since he was three months old. Now many might think that’s crazy, but then the agenda was not to make any sense out of my storytelling, but to soothe him through my voice and words. I still remember he would look at me intently as if I was trying to tell him something and he, like a good conversationalist would blabber some gibberish, but at the right places for pause!

Slowly I watched him become excited as he would identify pictures and colors over a familiar book. It was then that I realized that he loved being read to and used the opportunity to help him enjoy the reading sessions. It worked phenomenally. Hence, sharing with you today a few tips, which can create that reader in your child.

  1. Most importantly read yourself: It’s not funny but like every other habit, children do as they see, so before you dole out giving ‘gyaan’ on reading, please do it yourself. Children often take cues from adults, so your child has to see the joy of reading in your eyes. Let them see how magical reading a book is. In fact, seeing you read for pleasure will have a big impact and they might simply see the enjoyable aspect of reading.
  2. Read aloud to your kids: One of the most basic and crucial efforts to build that strong foundation in literacy is reading out to your kids. Right from enhancing literacy skills by way of building vocabulary, helping them associate with the phonetics of words, to giving their imagination a workout, reading aloud has more benefits. Not to mention the plethora of beautiful and engaging stories that give a child the time of his life. So read and better if you can learn some nuances of storytelling for that better voice modulation to create a more enjoyable experience.
  3. Have books around the house/create reading nooks: If a child sees junk food, he will start enjoying them too, so is seeing books. The more a child sees books and the love of reading around , the more will he get inclined to grab and read. Create spaces or transform small nooks into makeshift libraries, that hold his favorite books and help him read his heart out.
  4. Let your kids read out to you: There’s nothing more exciting for a kid to get into a role reversal and read out just like you! It’s funny how they go through the same voice modulation and pause at the same places like you or their favorite teacher in school. Encourage your child to read their favorite story to you. This also boosts the confidence in your child for storytelling. This kind of practice can help a child take up storytelling in front of a wider audience.
  5. Let them choose: Be it a basic fairy tale, to some monster story to a simple comic book, let your child choose any book that he/she wants to read. The idea is to read and nothing better than reading something that they enjoy! Isn’t it?
  6. Make it a regular feature: Choose a time every day to indulge in books. Be it breakfast time, or bedtime, any time when the kids want to read is a good time. The idea is to relax and enjoy with books and not stress and crumble under the pressure of reading. Hence, don’t stress the days you don’t read. It’s absolutely okay.
  7. Challenge them with books: Sometimes indulge in books, which might be slightly complex for your child’s age. The idea is to challenge them and see if they can grasp the story line. However, having said that it doesn’t mean that you bog them down and make the experience frustrating. Help them enjoy the books by simplifying the stories and by helping them take cues from pictures.
  8. Bond with books on special occasions: Festivals bring in joy and what better way to double that joy than with books!  For eg. reading appropriate or festival appropriate books on the days of festivals, could be a fillip for kids. Make sure you stock some festival and holiday appropriate books to instill the magic of reading and the festival, of course!
  9. Plan activities around books: Plan a movie session on his favorite book. For instance, my child loves “Goldilocks” and so sometimes making him hear the audio-video version of the book is fun. Also sometimes we create a craft activity session where you make a house and add three props for bears and Goldilocks!
  10. Celebrating authors: This has been one of my favorites. My idea of celebrating the author’s birthday is by way of reading their works. It’s fun and great way of designing games around the characters from the author’s work. This way, I even introduce my kid to sometimes the lesser known book by the same author too.
  11. Exchange books in your network: One of the most potent ways of gearing your kids to read is by way of exchanging books from kids of their age. They get thrilled with the new additions, and feel happy to touch, see and read these new books from their friends.Sometimes more than the books, the idea of looking into something that is shared by their friends, thrills them. So maybe you can say peer pressure, but it does work.
  12. Gift books: There’s nothing beautiful and exciting than something wrapped in gift paper. Children get thrilled with the idea of getting gifts from their loved ones or friends. Requesting your loved ones to give books as gifts can be quite encouraging as gifts can be a great way to teach the kids to connect with others.

Children can learn a lot from the world of storytelling. From elements of communicating values, empathizing, to the more important life lessons, books can deal with a lot  by way of an engaging and inspiring story, without being preachy at all. All you have to do is read to them and encourage your little ones to do the same. Be it stories about your ancestors, faraway lands, fantastic beasts, fairy tales to tales of animals, reading opens a Pandora’s box of imagination, so jump upon the wagon of reading and storytelling to your little one and help him get a taste of life, away from his own!

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