There was an era, a decade or so ago, where reading used to be a hobby pursued by many. However, with the advent of multimedia (audio, video, animation, and even augmented and virtual reality), most of us, especially children, have not adopted the habit of reading. The multi-sensory world of social media immerses and interests them more than a seemingly ‘boring’ and monotonous world of reading. A lazy look at the options, and reading easily loses the bid for the kids’ limited attention span. Schools and colleges are adopting multimedia ed-tech innovations taking reading further out of the equation. As a result, both curricular reading and hobby-based reading are on a downslide. Reading habits are nearly extinct in today’s kids.
With this background, parents need to understand the importance of reading and the benefits it offers, which are unmatched by the currently available alternatives. Imagine reading Harry Potter versus watching a Harry Potter movie. Some might find watching the movie easy and much more fun. Now think about it. Does watching the movie leave anything to your imagination? No. The mystic world of Harry Potter has been created and presented to you and you are visualising it the way the director of the movie wants you to. You as an audience are just seeing and consuming the experience. Now contrast this to reading the book. The words do paint a picture, but how your mind translates into vivid imagery is entirely up to you. The Harry Potter of your imagination can look the way you want him to look. Hogwarts can be as mystical and curiously fearful as you’d like it to be. Makes your mind run wild, doesn’t it? This is what reading a book offers you, in addition to other basic benefits such as strengthening your command of the language and enhancing your ability to communicate and comprehend. Reading kids turn out to be more knowledgeable than others and are seen to do well academically as well in school.
There is no question that reading is a good habit for kids to develop. The challenge, however, is how to encourage the kids to read and develop good reading habits. Following are some ways to teach kids reading & encourage good reading habits among them.
Dedicated reading time each day
Make reading a routine. Set aside a dedicated time for kids to read every day. An hour before going to sleep is usually a good option. Develop it like a ritual while children are growing up. Making it a ritual will ensure that they don’t give up the habit of reading once they grow up.
Read to them
In the early childhood days, it might be a good idea to initiate this daily reading habit by reading out to them before bedtime. Many families do have this tradition where the parents read their kids to sleep. It could be a good option to engage kids in books early in their growing years.
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Create a cosy reading area
Setting up a cosy and comfortable reading space goes well with creating reading as a ritual. Make sure the lighting is optimal and seating is comfortable (not too comfortable though) with minimal noise and distractions. Here it is important to develop good reading practices in children. Discourage random reading, reading while lying down and other potentially damaging habits. Formation of good habits for kids early in their growing years can be extremely fruitful in the longer term.
Make it fun
Remember that most kids give up reading because they find it boring. The reading activity can be made fun by choosing from various genres the child might enjoy (comedy, suspense, horror, jungle, superhero, etc), different formats (comics, short stories, picture stories, etc.)
Access to a variety of books
One of the key ingredients of making reading fun and enjoyable is giving kids access to various genres and formats of books to explore and choose from. Genres such as comedy, suspense, horror, jungle, superhero, etc, and different formats such as comics, short stories, picture stories, etc. Encourage the kids to explore across formats and genres. This will not only eliminate monotony but might also help the kid zero in on a genre/format that works for them.
Let kids choose what to read
The worst thing we can do to build good reading habits is to force our choices on the kids. Let the children explore and make their own choices. Forcing them to read something might just push them away from reading entirely. However, they must start with good quality and age-appropriate books. A low-quality book might just prove to be counterproductive in helping build good reading habits.
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Engage with the reading kids
Another way to make reading habits more fun and meaningful is to engage with the kids on what they are reading. Ask them open-ended questions about the book. For example, ask them about the various characters in the book they are reading. Parents can also interconnect activities and ask kids to draw a caricature of their favourite character from the book they have read. This will enhance their self-esteem thus reinforcing the reading habit as one of the good habits for kids.
Make connections with life experiences
While engaging with the kids on the book they are reading, try to make connections with real-life experiences. In addition to being a great learning opportunity, such connections will help reading kids realise the benefits and learning from reading. Promote the habit of summarising the book, or expressing their views and opinions on what they have read and not take anything written in the book for granted. This will push them to engage deeper with their reading and also develop good habits for kids such as, vital thinking skills. This can go a long way in encouraging good reading habits in children.
Lead by example
If we expect our kids to take up the reading habit, we must lead by example. When kids see parents enjoying reading, they also tend to take up an interest in reading. Show them the fun of reading by sharing your joy of reading.
At EuroSchool, we are mindful of the extreme benefits of reading as a habit. Our curriculum and sessions are carefully designed to have reading as a significant element of the child’s learning process. Libraries at EuroSchool provide a wide variety of genres and formats for the kids to choose from and the spaces are well-designed for kids to indulge in the reading habit.