“Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body,” Joseph Addison, a poet once quoted.
There is a wealth of knowledge and information waiting to be discovered within pages of books. However, reading is losing its appeal with the younger generation hooked on distractions of modern day technology. In order to inculcate reading habits we should start as early as possible.
Here are some suggestions :
1. Bedtime stories
Parent can start reading to young child. There is no right age to start this habit, the sooner the better. The best time to do this is during bedtime. What better ways to spend quality time with your children and at the same time de-stress yourself with a relaxing activity!
2. Weekend storytelling
If bedtime stories are not your cup of tea, try to set aside some time for a weekend “story time”. Let them have a pick of their favourite book and we as a parent to present it as interesting as possible. This can be done as simple as using different voice and intonation and include some gestures and action to make it lively and funny. This activity is not only fun for the whole family but strengthen ties as well.
3. Make it fun
Children love sound effects, so add them wherever you can. For example, if there is a part where a clock is ticking, we make the sound of the clock "tick..tock…tick…tock." . When I read “Three Little Pigs”, the kids just love the exaggeration that I did when " I'll huff and I'll puff till I blow your house in". The kids really seem to like this added interaction and activity as we read. There are countless opportunities to make sounds and making it fun altogether.
4. Two-way story telling
Once in a while, vary the experience by allowing your child to think about how the story should end. So, instead of reading until the story concludes, ask the child what he or she thinks will happen next. This will help enhance their creativity and nurtures their imagination power. In addition, it can also help to form foundation of problem solving skills and an easy way to find out what is their mind!
5. Storytelling by other storytellers
You don’t have to do storytelling all the time. Occasionally, there are many local library and bookstores that organizes free storytelling sessions. Take opportunities to take your children to such sessions. Sometimes hearing a different take on the story makes all the difference in the world for teaching children to read. You can also pick up a trick or two on how to tell a story to your children.
6. Hook them up
We adults are often hooked up by drama serials unfinished ending. This works for children too. Occasionally during a storytelling session, leave a story unfinished so that they will wait for anticipation on how the story ends. A good chapter book will entice a reader and make them want to come back for more.
7. Make it accessible at home
Make books readily available in the house. Make it within reach. A small book shelf does not cost much and you can start your collection by going to warehouse sales and book fairs. There are good bargains and it is a start to your mini library.
My home library. You can have a small one like the top or if there is extra budget and space, go for bigger ones.8. Look for more elsewhere
Pay a visit to the local library occasionally and let them pick their own books. Children enjoys being able to pick out their very own books. These days, book stores are also open to the idea of book browsing. I am avid fan for Kinokuniya book store in KLCC and I am surprised on the number of people who actually spend their time reading books there rather than going to the local library!
9. Books as gifts
Instead of toys, consider books as gifts. Books are not necessarily expensive, they are also affordable good books out there. I think by giving books as gifts make them more valuable and cherished.
10. Show by example
Children who is raised by parents who value reading and are much more likely to become readers themselves. If your children see that you read, you choose to read, and you enjoy reading, they are more likely to do the same.
Encouraging reading is really an easy thing to do. There are so many benefits of teaching children to read that we as adults and parents need to make sure we do so!