Reading is a habit that needs to be inculcated among children from an early age. Today, we see many children either busy with smartphones, tablets, virtual games or simply wasting time in front of the television. As parents, if you want your child to be a good reader, you need to motivate and develop a habit of reading in your child. It is difficult to nurture the love for reading in a child as they are quite restless and tend to get bored easily. But as parents, it is your responsibility to work hard towards transforming them into little readers and instill reading habits in children.
Also read: 10 Best Bedtime Story Books for Toddlers
Many parents start reading to their children from an early age. Some start as early as when the baby is 6 months of age, while some make quite a head start by reading to their fetus as well. That is a good way to introduce the wonderful world of books and literature to a child. In the early years, babies are more interested in what is visually appealing than the content of the story being read out to them. The colourful drawings in the books will quickly pique their interest and they would want to touch the drawings too. Introducing your children to books even after the age of 1 is perfectly fine too. By the time a child grows, he/she would be interested in reading books with you even if you don’t ask him too.
To develop a good reading habit in children, the most important thing to do is to start early and introduce them to a variety of books. Here are some simple steps you can take to inculcate reading habits in children:
#1. Start early
You can start reading to your infant from the day you bring him home. Young children love to hear soothing voices of their parents. They may laugh at the funny voices you make while reading or even listen to you and fall asleep in your arms while you read a bedtime story to them. Starting at an early age will make it a routine and your child will look forward to it every night. Invest in some cloth books, touch and feel books, puppet books and some board books with big illustrations.
#2. Choose your books carefully
Choose your books with rich illustrations. Young children respond well to pictures and colours. There are wonderful books in the market that have good illustrations, pop up books, 3D images - these types of books will be interesting to children and would make him/her want more. Books with vivid illustrations and little text should be the key for young readers, because extremely young babies do not know how to read and would be more interested in an image. As the child grows up, you can even ask questions based on illustrations. For example, ‘Do you see a clock in the room?’ or ‘The cow is jumping over what?’. This will not only make them think but also build vocabulary and help him learn new words with every reading.
#3. Make reading enjoyable
If you just read through a story without any emotion attached to it, the child will not have any interest in listening. Instead, read to your child in an expressive manner. Make funny noises and choose different voices for different characters in the book. Do not hesitate in making silly noises like ‘bang’, ‘quack-quack’, ‘ziggety-ziggety-zaggety-zoom’. Your child needs to hear these sounds to make the story more interesting. It will widen his/her power to imagine the world of stories. This is a great way to instill reading habits in children.
Also read: 10 Most Recommended Books For Kids
#4. Turn reading into a habit
Reading is not just sitting with a book and going through it. Reading is an experience. It needs to be practiced every day for it to be enjoyed. Make reading an essential part of life - just like bathing or eating. Sneak in reading moments in your daily routine. Do not force a child to read or make reading a chore. You can take a bedtime story to bed every night and read it to your child. You can create a reading nook or a reading room where your child can be surrounded by books and you and your child can cuddle on a bean bag to read his/her favourites.
#5. Let the child choose
Kids pick up books that look interesting to them, visually. If you have a variety of books at home, let the child choose what he/she wants to read. If you are taking a trip to the library or a bookstore, ask your children to go browse around and let them choose what they like the most. Children will be more interested in reading something that they have selected themselves.
All children have their favourites. So, if your child is in love with a particular book, don’t get frustrated if they want you to read it to them time and again (remember, we listen to the same song a thousand times). This is a good sign because it shows that your child understands the book, is learning new words, is learning to get attached to a story. It is like practicing a new technique and it is a practice for your child as well. Re-reading a book will only enhance fluency and master his grasp of the plot of the story. Kids like to spot things they might have missed in the first or second read. By re-reading the same book, they connect the words they see to words in real life. When they feel confident enough, they will ask if they can read out the story to you.
#7. Introduce variety
If your baby boy is interested in cars, you should buy books related to vehicles and if your baby girl is interested in fishes, you buy her all fish related storybooks. It is good to buy books based on a child’s interest. But it is also important to provide them with a variety of books and subjects. For toddlers, you may select books of rhymes, actions, storybooks, colours, alphabets etc. For older kids, you can have a mix of storybooks, fiction, science, mystery, comics etc. The more variety a child has, the more interested they would be in reading. As they read a varied collection of books, they will also understand what they enjoy reading the most.
#8. Be a reader
If you want your children to read, you need to be a reader as well. It is a good idea for kids to see their parents reading. Kids learn more through observation and imitation. When kids watch you read magazines, newspapers or books; they understand that reading is important. Invite your child to read with you. Ask them to join you the next time you read that magazine or newspaper.
#9. Relate stories to real life
If you are reading a book about a witch who helps her animal friends, relate it to how your child can help his/her friends in times of trouble. If you are reading a story about a princess going to sleep and saying goodnight to everyone, ask your child to say goodnight to all family members and things around the room. Try and relate a book’s plot with real-life situations. This method encourages reading habits in children and also helps them associate words with stories.
#10. Snuggle with books
Books give that comforting feeling. When you are lonely and you have a book with you, it gives you the feeling of being with a true friend. Snuggle with your kids and a good book every time you read out to your kids. Take the book to bed and hug your kids, put them on your lap and read to them from their favourite book. By doing this, a child can associate a sense of comfort and security. This also helps children develop confidence and by the time they grow up, they will not have a fear of reading out loud in a classroom.
Also Read: Most Recommended Games for Improving Hand Eye Coordination in Children
Never force a child to read. There are some children who might not want to read and are more playful. For them, you need to take things slow. Reading very short bedtime stories can be a start and then you can move on to longer stories for longer durations.
Want to share your experience as a mom with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you