The reading habit is dying a slow death because of rapidly advancing technology and overwhelming distractions. Here’s why this is one addictive habit that you must cultivate and how you can do so.
If you are looking for a reading a to z guide you’re at the right place. And if you’re wondering why reading is a good habit, again this is for you. As a parent or teacher though you might be wondering how to develop a reading habit which is the biggest question given the digital world we live in. So for those of you who are wondering …
In the words of Ronald Dhal …
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives.” – Roald DahlTweet
Well reading to know about other worlds – or places – may be a thing of the past come the internet. But reading as a habit is still important. Why? Well here are just a few reasons why this is one addiction you should not ditch. Books play an important role in the life of kids – indeed that of every individual. No matter how much you are on the net – and even when you are browsing – you still have to read. Besides, reading can give wings to your imagination unlike any other content because text is much more descriptive and articulate than any other form of communication. Because it is so articulate, you’ll forever be learning new words and phrases not just from or about your own location but from around the world.
Did you know that the British call toffees “Sweets” while the Americans call them “Candies”?Tweet
New vocabulary may not directly translate to better communication but when you are reading books, you also unconsciously imbibe the grammar, sentence structure, and other nuances of language and dialect that will help you use the new vocabulary effectively – and that does mean better communication. Moreover, whenever you have a chance to travel to these distant lands your reading will stand you in good stead. Another big advantage of reading is that when you read, you not only imbibe the vocabulary or style, you also imbibe the culture and environment that the book creates. This makes you a more empathetic and naturally compassionate person. All this will eventually contribute to a better and more confident you. It will also make you thirsty for more … knowledge, dreams, words, and meanings; and you’ll soon find yourself – or your child – immersed in books and reading and unable to let go.
Those who form the habit of reading early in life are far more likely to continue to read in their adult years.Tweet
So here we address how to inculcate habitual reading in children though these ideas may work for you too if you are determined and disciplined enough to follow them. Before we do that though a word about the role of parents and teachers.
While parents are the sole (read soul) guide for a child, kids spend a good part (almost a third) of their day at school or college. The responsibility of inculcating the reading habit – or for that matter any habit – therefore lies as much with the teachers as with the parents. Schools can incorporate reading into their pedagogy, making it a regular practice. For instance, before explaining a lesson a teacher may ask the students to stand up by turns and read a portion of the text – or vice versa – explain first and read later. Such practices coupled with encouragement and support from parents will gently but surely help the child form a habit of reading.
On their part, parents should support the school in their effort. For instance, if the school implements stand up reading parents could follow the same practice at home. That way, the child reads the same text two times at a minimum – which bodes well for comprehension.
On a note of caution children today are highly distracted and likely to balk at reading if forced. Therefore, it is important to make it fun and routine. Here’s how you can do that –
As we said, the younger the kids the easier it is to inculcate habits. So right from the start here’s what you could do at home –
Set aside a time of the day when everyone in the family sits down with a book and reads quietly. The evening tea hour when everyone’s back from work and having tea or coffee works best but you can go ahead and choose your own time. Soft music in the background will add to the ambience as will a clean home. Make sure the room where you sit is well lit and well ventilated. Turn on the air conditioner if you like – in short make it a comfortable place – but not so much that you nod off!
This phrase became popular for a reason. It’s the time of the day when you spend a while with your child – or grandchild – telling them a story and bonding with them. Rather than narrating, use a book to read the story from as you point out the various events illustrated in the book. You can hand the little ones a book of their own to turn pages as you read from the book in your hand. They will grow up looking at books in your hand and want to imitate you. As they grow older you can ask them to read to you every so often – perhaps once a week – and gradually increase their reading time. It’s a memory they’ll carry with them for life.
Have you heard of the Famous Five the Secret Seven, or the Five Findouters? These are all series of children’s books written by the well-known author Enid Blyton. Many authors of children’s books have a series of story books. Harry Potter and Ronald Dhal are contemporary series that appeal to the GenZ. The point we are making here is that these books not only provide easy reading material but also help your kids keep a log or list of books they have read – or a wish-list. These lists teach them to organize themselves and their books as well serve as a reminder to keep up the reading. You can start a parallel reading log of your own to encourage them and develop your own reading.
If you are at your child to read his texts all day he’s sure to throw up a ruckus and eventually give up reading all-together. So let him choose books outside his curriculum – after all you want him to widen his knowledge. A story a day keeps the boredom away. Let him read stories of adventure, high-school romance or cartoon characters in his free time. He can sit beside you and ask you whatever he does not understand in the book – be sure to explain as best as possible. Once he experiences the joy of discovery you’ll find it hard to keep him away from a book for long.
With little children it is always why this or what’s that. Answer these questions you must and most parents do so. But they do it “to the best of their knowledge,” which is sometimes not quite enough. It is important to answer their query fully and correctly. So why not refer to an encyclopaedia or dictionary before saying the first thing that comes to mind? That way, you’ll not only answer their questions fully but also encourage them to look up things for themselves in future. Of course, if they ask when you don’t have your reference material handy you can always tell them to note down the query in their “little black book” for asking later. Or let them carry the little black book around wherever they go and devote some time at the end of the day for “query solving”.
Of course you should monitor your child’s choice of books – after all you don’t want him to learn too much too soon. But within his age range you should let him choose. You’ll find plenty of reading material for different age groups. For instance, kids below 10 or 12 would love cartoon stories like Winnie the Pooh, Tintin, and Noddy but older children in their teens might be excited by the adventures of Harry Potter or Famous Five. Still older children in junior college or college may like Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys stories. The takeaway here is, set your limits by all means but let them choose within those limits.
It’s a good practice to carry your book wherever you go. In fact, a book is perhaps the best BFF you can have. It can become your constant companion and no matter where you find yourself. – in a bus queue or in the doctor’s waiting room – you can always open your book and read. Yes, mobile devices are handy too but if your child is addicted he’ll want his book. So right from the start make it a practice to carry your own and your child’s book with you wherever you go – and don’t forget them on your trips out of town! They make great companions during the ride and also during a quiet afternoon resting. Books can keep your child entertained while you enjoy an appetizer and sip a drink before dinner at the restaurant.
Remember those essays about a day at the market? Well why not make it happen for your child? Set aside one day a week when you walk – or drive – to the market and pay a visit to the local library. Okay, so if you don’t have a library close by, you can either buy the book from a reseller – who might let you have it on a sale or return basis – or get your child a Kindle reader and download his choice of books for him.
As your kids grow older they will naturally want to surf the net but if they are habituated to reading they will continue to do so online too. Besides there are any number of guest blogging sites that will allow your child to put up their own blog. This will allow them to translate the knowledge they gained through reading into words and express themselves. That’s icing on the cake don’t you think?
As a parent you are responsible for the holistic development of your child. This means not just giving him a good education but also ensuring that he acquires the skills required to live a fruitful and happy life. Reading is one such skill that will always help him no matter where he goes and what he does.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get your child’s first book now! If you feel you can add to do this or would like us to write about something different do let us know. Join our Facebook Community and sign up to our emailer for updates and news.