Last week we looked into how to introduce books to infants and continue to read a variety of books that help children develop a love for reading. This week, we will look at pointers to help parents gently expose the joy of books and reading to children.
Reading a story versus narrating it - Narration involves bringing the story to life rather than merely reading the words written in the books. Feel free to add your own elements to the story, change some parts which resonate with the values you want to pass on to your child - the hare and the tortoise reaching the finish line together, for example. Change the language of the story to the language spoken at home if that makes you more comfortable to narrate it. Making a story lively by using different facial expressions and exaggerated tones and actions would make you a popular story teller!
Here are a few concerns that parents might have:
All my child’s friends can read, but he still can’t. - Every child learns to read at his own pace. That magical breakthrough moment - when the child begins to show interest and an aptitude in stringing letters into words happens at different ages for different children, even within the same family. It can seem like they’re not trying hard enough, but for some skills, we are able to see their competency only when it happens in leaps. If we force them into it, it could make them lose interest in reading. Perhaps you can have your child turn the pages as you read so he feels like he’s contributing to, and controlling the pace of the story. Or you could mutually decide for him to read out one paragraph as you read out the next? Such gentle ways of encouragement could help the child to move towards reading independently.
My child can read, yet she wants me to read to her. - As children grow older, such uninterrupted moments with parents can be of great comfort to them. If being read to is a way your child feels close to you, use that as a special way to be with her.
My child asks a lot of questions while reading and it interrupts the flow of the story. When the child has questions or comments about the story, it shows that he is engaged in the story. Maybe he related something in the story with an incident that happened in his life. Making time for interruptions makes way for conversations. This builds an understanding about each other’s perspective which otherwise is easy to miss in the rush of the routine. Reading at home needs to be a fun, inspiring and a curiosity quenching experience!
My older child does not pick up a book to read by herself - We never know why some children resist reading. They may find it a struggle due to having a different style of learning which is more auditory. Listening to audio-books which are mostly freely available on the internet will bring them in touch with the stories and the knowledge of books.
It is important for parents and adults to understand that some children will love reading and will always want to engage with a book, while some may not enjoy it as much. Not everyone has an equal liking for sports and music, and books are no different. So if a child doesn’t show a great interest in reading, let us not perceive them or ourselves as failures. As parents, we can make the world of books joyful for our children, so that they have a desire to engage with books all their lives.
Author: Manasi Dandeker is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.