“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” – Ernest Hemingway
Parents have always been eager to inculcate good reading habits in their children. Whether they succeed in their attempt or not, they are willing to try every opportunity available to them to make this happen.
There are no two arguments that reading is a good habit and it comes with a multitude of benefits. However, the question remains – How to make reading a habit in your child?
When is the right time to start this habit in your child? What kind of books are good for your child? Should you buy or borrow books?
The whole thing would have been easier if only you could do it yourself. You don’t have an active role in this. The best you can do is to encourage reading and make books available to your children. But when they are not taking the bait, it can be frustrating for you.
The correct questions you should ask yourself are – Am I doing it the right way? Am I pushing too hard? Am I asking them to do something I’m unwilling to do?
This article tries to find answers to your questions and offer you tips and suggestions on how to develop reading habits in your children.
Why is so much importance given to reading?
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde
When you ask an educator why reading is important, they will list out the obvious benefits like it improves your vocabulary and knowledge, it motivates you and helps you focus better, or it can make you a good conversationalist.
In addition to all these visible benefits, reading books offers you some hidden benefits as well. Again, not all of them apply to everyone. The hidden benefits of reading are:
- You’ll never feel lonely.
- You’ll have well-developed imaginative and creative skills.
- Your memory tends to be sharper.
- You are capable of improved analytical thinking.
- You learn to use the experience of others to work towards your goal.
- You improve your chance of discovering your real passion as you are exposed to more topics.
How to develop reading habits in your child?
Most parents realize the hard way that this is easier said than done.
While some parents are successful in this endeavor, others fall short miserably. This will make them wonder where they went wrong.
Let’s begin at the beginning and tackle this question systematically.
As a parent, you need to understand one of the basic habits of a child. They will do what you do when they are very young. Of course, as they grow older, they will start thinking on their own and want to be more independent. Before this phase sets in, you need to step in. Catch’em young.
Don’t preach what you don’t practice
Another point where most parents falter is that they don’t read and aren’t book lovers. When you ask your child to do something that you are not following, your words may not have the desired effect. All your preaching about the benefits of reading books will fall on deaf ears.
Don’t push too hard
A child has the sixth sense to detect your wants and wishes. Some of them are only too willing to comply, either to make you happy or they trust your suggestions. However, it is the natural tendency of kids to go against what they are being told. When you push your agenda too much, higher chances that it will backfire. So, learn to take it easy. Do encourage them to read and make books available to them but refrain from promoting them forcefully.
Let them decide what they want to read
Indeed, you want your kids to read beyond their age. This is especially true for parents who are not readers. You are not aware of the process of choosing topics, genres, authors, and books. You buy expensive books for your child thinking they will like them. However, they refuse to even open it, let alone read it. You may never understand the reason for this.
Introduce them to the world of books early on
When you read about a book that is popular among children, you buy it for your children. What you fail to understand is that this is not their kind of book. When choosing or buying books for children, allow them to choose what they want to read. In fact, a visit to a bookshop or a library is one of the most exhilarating experiences for a young child. Introduce them to the world of books as early as you can. And just watch them take to reading and books like fish to water.
Ensure there are enough books around kids
A child starts developing their likes and dislikes based on their genetics and environment from the time they are born. When a child sees its parents reading in its earliest memories, it has a better chance of developing a reading habit without much coercion.
Don’t wait for them to learn to read
What most parents don’t realize is that they need not wait until a child can read to introduce books to them. They need not learn to read or even be able to hold a book. You can do that for them. Actually, reading to kids is one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent. Make it a bedtime ritual or set aside time for this activity during the daytime. It also helps in building strong bonds with your child.
Here are some tips for reading with your child.
- Read aloud together.
- Let them choose the book.
- Allow them to hold the book while you read.
- Read with fun and enthusiasm.
- Act out the dialogue.
- Encourage your child to ask questions.
- Answer them with patience.
- Talk about the pictures.
- Allow their imagination to run wild.
As they develop an affinity towards reading and books, you can enroll them in libraries and book clubs with their consent. Once they are hooked on books, there is no turning back.
Habits of good readers
As a parent, you may worry whether the child has developed good reading habits. They are reading books but are they reading the right books? Are comics good for kids?
It doesn’t matter what kind of books a child is reading as long as it is age-appropriate. Here are some reading habits that can help your child become a better reader.
- Capacity to visualize what they read.
- Ability to comprehend the content.
- Skill to connect it with their own life.
- Capability to absorb lessons from it.
- Let them know how much you enjoy the session.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot
Reading is a good habit, no doubt. However, your child may not take to it for many reasons. Like they find it a boring chore or they haven’t yet discovered the joy of reading. Or they may even have difficulty in reading.
Compelling and pushing them into something, no matter how good it is, is not going to work. Treat kids as intelligent human beings capable of making their own decisions and you would be surprised how easy it is to make them see your viewpoint.