When does your child read? A) Every single day – he just loves learning and letting his imagination run free, B) Read? He uses his books to reach the TV dial or C) When I make him, come hell or Lambchops Play-along!
If your answer is ‘A,’ congratulations: Your child will grow pup with initiative, creativity, and knowledge needed in today’s competitive world. If your answer is ‘B,’ welcome to the club; many other mothers get the urge to throw the TV and computer games out the window. And if your answer is ‘C’ – well, it is a step in the right direction. Sort of.
Here are six ways on how to instill the love of reading in your child:
1. Get together with other mothers. Some kids, even if they grow to like books, might eventually abandon them because their friends want to play, or they cannot keep up with the neighborhood discussions on Barbie. Organize some reading group, or at least encourage other parents to fix their own children’s reading habits. Then you can throw back an argument your child has used for most of his life: “other kids are doing it.”
2. Don’t make reading a chore or a punishment. It is easy to tell a hyperactive or underachieving child to “Keep quiet for half an hour and just read a book.” Or “Your grades are low because you do not read enough…from now on I want you to keep books and not to play!” But this will give negative reading connotations that no amount of Brothers Grimm can erase. Separate the situation from the solution. If you do want your child to sit still, tell him to go his room, where books will be waiting for his quiet enjoyment. Or if his grades are low, limit his play, then at another time; gently explain to him how reading can help him in his studies. Books then become the friend, not the enemy, and friendship is the first step to love.
3. Do not criticize his reading. So what if he reads slowly, or if he reads the same books over and over again? The important thing is that he is reading, and if he needs correction, be sure to sandwich it with lots of his effort. “Son, I’m proud that you’re reading a lot, and writing stories of your own too! But don’t write on the books, okay?! Here, I bought you a nice notebook. If you want to write after reading, you can put it here so everyone can read your beautiful stories.”
4. Cultivate a general interest in learning. You have taught your child to love reading; now you have to teach him to take the initiative. Organize nature trips, collect bugs or flowers, or just place him in any situation that will expose him to new things. Now that his senses are stimulated, he will naturally turn to what suggestions number 1-9 have drilled into him day after day. “Hey, didn’t I read a book on that some time ago? I think I’ll look it up again when I get home.”
5. Make books available. Rarely does a child plan to read a book. It is spontaneous, like everything else he does, a hungriness that springs on a sleepy Saturday afternoon or after a wonderful discovery in the garden. So do not keep the encyclopedia set behind a locked glass case, or the fairy tale books on a shelf too high for him to reach. And most importantly, do not cripple him with the fear that he might “ruin the book.” Books are to be read, and if the pages get a little crumpled, then they are beautiful books indeed. Haven’t you read The Velveteen Rabbit?
6. Set him free. After you have instilled the love of reading in him, let him explore its realm for himself. You have given him the most beautiful gift possible, but he will never be able to know this until he discovers this on his adventuring own. If he likes Sherlock Holmes, well and good. If he prefers Ghosts and Goblins, then step back and let them be. After all, your child is A) reading every single day – he just loves to learn and allowing his imagination run free!
Author Bio: Sohail is a content marketer and a blogger, currently he is associated with Smiletutor.sg. His hobbies include writing, reading books, traveling and gardening.
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