It has been recognised in several studies that children respond well and acquire early literacy skills when they were read to at home at a young age. However, do you know that helping your child to cultivate and retain the interest in reading helps them to become better performers in school and also encourage them to seek for knowledge instead of studying blindly for their grades?
Reading helps children to learn new words and comprehend ideas and big pictures. As children grow, we need to help them cultivate a love for reading so that they retain this habit into their teens and even into adulthood. Doing so helps our children to get a competitive edge as they begin to seek out new knowledge in books.
However, we know it is tough to entice a child to read when there are now many distractions that appear more “fun”. Electronic devices such as iPads are all the rage now as children learn to watch videos on YouTube faster than they can walk. How can we overcome this? Let’s check it out!
Read to your Children
One of the most effective ways to counter a resistance to reading is to read to your children during bedtime when they are young. Once you have tuck them into bed nicely, sit by the bedside and begin to read to them. You can do so with one child or if your children share the room, you can sit in between them and read to them. Make your narration fun – add in actions, change your voice to act out the scenes – to show your children that reading can be enjoyable. If they show signs of wanting to join in, let them do so! Once they get the idea that reading can be fun, encourage them to do the activity with you during the day or evening so that it will not interrupt their bed time.
Bring them to the Library
One sure way to entice your children to read is to bring them to the library, where they can see other children reading in the kids’ section. Children will usually want to join in the fun when they see other children doing something that they are not doing. By showing your children that other kids are reading, you can encourage them to read too. Do not interfere when your children choose the books they want to read, but guide them slowly if the books are not appropriate.
Allow them to Borrow Books from the Library
The next step is of course to allow them to borrow books from the library. Help them to get a library card. Children can be really proud of themselves when they have a card of their own which allows them to borrow books. When the excitement is strong, encourage your children to borrow as many books as they can, and remind them that their duty is to read them all.
Buy Books for them
Take note of the books that your children borrow. Usually, they will select books that they like and might take a fancy to certain themes or type of books. Once you have a good idea of what they really like, buy some of these books for them. Having their favourite books at home will encourage them to read more. Promise your children that if they continue to read diligently, you will buy more books for them.
Read together with them
If you have older children and reading to them is no longer an option, you can read together with your children. Crave out a time every day to read together as a family. Instead of sitting in front of the TV after dinner, you can consider sitting down as a family to read together. You do not have to read the same things, but you encourage your children to read when you settle down on the couch to read materials that interest you. Children love to mirror their parents, so what better ways to encourage them to read than to do the same yourself?
Have a book discussion
The beauty of a book discussion is to help your children delve deeper into the book. This is especially helpful if you have older children who are capable of reading the entire book on their own. By reading the same book as they do, you show them that you are interested in what they do. The additional benefits of this are to encourage your children to think deeper and understand the plot of the story, the characters and what the writer wants to explore. The discussion is also likely to interest the children to find out more about the author or the other books that he or she has written. However, do make sure that the books you have chosen to have a book discussion on are books that can be easily understood by your children or they might end up discouraged instead.
Bring them to a book fair
There are book fairs that are held in Singapore now and then. Popular Book Store will usually have one at Singapore Expo once a year, and other book sellers or even publishers may hold book fairs too. The environment at a book fair is energised by book lovers as they hunt for their favourite books and these people are usually rushing around. Immersing your children in such an environment shows them what books can do to excite people and more often than not, they will want to buy some books too. Help them to choose the right books to bring home. Importantly, set up a time for a book discussion at home for these books so that the children get to truly read and appreciate the books bought.
Cultivate the habit yourself
If you happen to be someone who hates to read, try to cultivate the habit of reading so that your children will learn to mirror what you do. Reading is truly important to children, especially in Singapore where our children are put through gruelling school works and examinations. Help them to achieve better grades with lesser stress through the love of books and reading.