A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.
~ Jane Austen
Reading opens up our minds to endless knowledge. Ideally, it should be a habit that is cultivated since young as books are our windows to the world. It exercises our brains, improves concentration and develops a child’s imagination. In short, the benefits of reading begin with the very first board book that a baby sees and continue into his childhood and throughout his life.
It’s never too late to encourage a reading habit in your kids. Here are the 10 ways to do so:
- Develop a daily routine
Find the best time of the day which fits into your child’s and family’s schedule. Depending on their age, younger kids can be read to for shorter periods of time. Even if your baby doesn’t show any interest when you are reading, make it a point to complete the chosen book everyday. Animate your voice and point at interesting objects in the pictures. With patience, this will catch his attention and he will join in.
- Role reversal
Bring out your child’s favourite soft toy and get her to read to the toy. Have her show the toy how a book works. Then encourage your child to narrate the story from what she sees in the pictures.
- Lead by example
When you sit down with a newspaper, magazine or book for a quiet time, give your child some books to flip too. By reading in front of her, you are telling her the importance of reading to you and she will want to follow suit too.
- Create your own books
Choose your child’s favourite character or theme, then get her to tell you a story. Write it down together on several pieces of paper, staple them together and have her draw images for each page. When you’re done, read it together.
- Visit the library and book store
Whenever you are out for your grocery shopping, drop by a book shop for a short reading session. Let your child choose a book from the shelf and read him the story. Invest in a membership at a nearby library and visit it weekly or fortnightly. Be on the look-out for activities at the library or book store.
- Book on a tape
Get recorded stories and play them during the drive to and from school, or during road trips. It doesn’t only keep your kids entertained, but also send their imaginations flying.
- See beyond books
Reading materials come in many shapes. Magazines, comic books, menus and cardboard boxes all provide opportunities for reading practice. Other avenues include playing board games that involve written instructions, letters from a pen pal, as well as subtitles on your TV. Get your child involved in reading out loud the shopping list, or leave little post-it notes for your child every now and then.
- Make it fun!
You can strive to make the reading experience a fun one. Ask them questions about the story or create mini plays by acting out the story. Recall the words in the story and spell them out together in the mud or on a sand with a twig.
- Create a reading log
Like the Banci Bacaan that we had during our school days, make a reading list for your child to record the books he has read. Set a goal for the number of books within a period of time, then reward him with a small treat – a special time with you, a book, a visit to the ice-cream shop – for his achievement.
- End the day with a story
What better way to wind down and end the day with a good story. Get your child to choose a story, tuck him into bed and read him the story in your gentlest, soothing voice. Make this a daily affair no matter what.
Do your kids love reading and if so, how do you cultivate the habit?