Children are really vulnerable. They need to be gently guided to take the right path, professionally and personally. Books can be an interesting way to explore the horizon. But how to inculcate the habit of reading in them and most importantly – what would be the right books for them? So, Psychiatrist Swati Wadhwa helps us explore the topic – Inculcating the Reading Habit – for today. Without much ado, over to the expert:
Inculcating the Reading Habit
By Dr Swati Wadhwa
The first thing you should know about the kids is that they are not going to learn anything or do anything if you tell them to do. If you want your kid to do something, you have to do it yourself first. There is the reason you sometimes call them “Mini me”! You can’t preach something you don’t practice. It is the same with reading; if you want to make a reader out of your kid then you have to set an example out of yourself for them. Make the reading your own habit first and try to do it in presence of the kid. Reading doesn’t necessitate the type of book; it can be a magazine or newspaper or a cook book or a catalogue. When the parent reads with interest and a smile on their face, the child emulates.
You can best sow the seed for it at a tender age, as early as 3 years. The best way to do it is to simply read with your child (not to your child). Choose the books with illustration and bigger font size. Try to spell out the smaller words in between and explain the meaning of difficult or bigger words. Play act if there are dialogues in it, keep it interesting. Fix a time for reading like every night at bed time and yield to “one more story please” as much as you can.
Choosing According to the Kids’ Interests
As the child grows, allow them to choose the book, observe the pattern to understand their interests. Buy the books on the same or related topic. It will strengthen your bond too as the kids are very observant and they realise how much you care about them through these simple and small gestures. Try to buy paperbacks not the ebooks/digital books as much as you can to reduce the screen time as most of the kids are studying online or playing online games, currently. Keep the things interesting. Before you start the story or a book, look at the cover, read the title and author’s name aloud. Ask your kid to guess what it can be about. It can improve their imagination and make them more curious about the story. Give them a diary or a journal to write down the things the liked in the book.
Keep up the motivation!
If you are busy and don’t have enough time to sit with the kid for reading, ask them to read it aloud while you do your daily chores. Everyone likes to be needed, tell them you find the work very boring and you need their help to make it more interesting. It can’t be one sided, ask them questions about the characters in the story, why did he do something in a certain way? What were his other options? This will teach them to think about their actions and the consequences before doing anything. It will improve their critical thinking. Ask the kid to read a cook book/recipe aloud when you make something, it’s a good way to improve their vocabulary and creating a new hobby.
Don’t make the reading mandatory. If you force your kid to read, it will make their aversion to it stronger. It is best to make a schedule or timetable for them in a broad sense. Sit with your kid and divide the time in 5 broad categories: school, self study/coaching classes, play time, recreational and creative. Most of us get confused between the last 3 categories. Play time is playing outside with other kids – games like basketball, badminton or anything which includes outdoor time. Recreational time is for chilling, watching T.V, playing video games etc. mostly non-productive activities. Creative time is for hobbies like painting, dancing, etc. with some productivity in it. Reading can be done during both recreational and creative time.
As I said, don’t force them into it, keep the books readily available especially in case of teenagers. Keep a stock of books handy in living area/library at home, pack books and comics while travelling and get a membership at the local library. You can make a book club with your kids and their friends, let them choose a book, meet at home once a week or fortnightly, discuss the book, have a little tea party. It will also diversify their interest as all the kids will get to choose a book in turns.
Stay tuned for the second part…