At PTMs, parents constantly ask how they can inculcate the habit of reading in their kids. They complain that even though there are a ton of books at home, kids simply don’t bother with them.
Thinking back on my own experience with books growing up, and then the experience of my own kids on the relationship they had with books, I realized there is a lot parents themselves are doing to put kids off from reading.
More often than not, moms and dads want their kids to read but do not show their own interest in reading themselves. How will kids realize what joy books can bring in their life, if parents don’t express that joy to them? One can not simply pretend for a day or two. It has to be sincere. Sincerity is one thing kids are really good at detecting. If you fake it, they’ll know it.
Parents tell me, ” We buy so many books for them but they just won’t read.” Can you blame them? I mean I just got a gardening book as a gift and the bow is still on it. I don’t care a hoot for gardening. What I’m saying is that identifying your child’s natural inclination towards a certain genre, allowing them to pick out their own books at the shop, giving them the power of choice can make a huge difference.
A certain comfy, cozy place to read with sufficient lighting and good ambiance is quite important to the overall fulfilling and joyous moments we get from reading, but parents again, pay little to no heed to this aspect. The association of a book along with a particular place to read it can be a highly effective catalyst to jump start your child’s genuine interest.
Parents compare and contrast to other kids, be it in their own family or with the child’s peers. In any case they often hold unrealistic expectations. Take a step back and observe what the actual reading level of your child is. Expressing disappointment, even more serious, sadness, at the ‘poor reading skills’ of your child is the biggest factor that squashes any desire within him/her to read. Support your child (will do a blog post on how to do that soon), but let them develop at their own pace. Don’t be critical.
Actively showing interest in the book your child is reading can greatly motivate your child to actually complete it. The objective is not for the child to simply pick up a book… but rather for the child to comprehend it, to ‘get’ the book. What better way than to ask your child about what he has understood rather than how much he has read… I remember my dad subscribing to Time Magazine and Newsweek when I was around 14 years old, and then telling me that I should read a few articles that he was interested in but ‘didn’t have the time to read’. Far be it for me to be interested in global markets, but thinking I had to give my dad the low down on the reasons of the latest economic slump, not only improved my general knowledge, but also got me interested in economics.
There is a lot we can be doing to really bring out the potential in our children, and developing the love of reading can be the key to unlocking that potential. Electronic gadgets, though great tools to develop certain reading skills, can not replace a book. As for me, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee, snuggle into my blanket and get back to my book.