With the increase in trendy gadgets, that we see in almost every child’s hands these days, there is no doubt that reading a good old-fashioned book is becoming less popular. Despite this, teachers can guide parents in making a few adjustments at home to encourage their children into taking an avid interest in reading.
Here are a few pointers.
Children often look to their parents for inspiration. They mimic them and pick up on their habits. ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ and ‘chip of the old block ’ are profound truths. When a parent has no interest in reading, how does a child form good reading habits?
Associate reading with pleasure
Often children are made to read in order to write the book report due the next day, or they are forced to open a textbook to prepare for the impending and dreaded exam. This makes them relate the entire reading experience to stress. Inevitably, the sight of a book just puts them off’.
Wouldn’t it be great if parents talked about plots and characters instead of idle gossip? Wouldn’t it be amazing if parents could manage to bribe kids with books, or offer a new book as a reward instead of the usual things? Grown-ups need to show that reading is fun, pleasurable and a source of joy, not a source stress or boredom.
Children, like adults, have their own preferences. Even if parents do somehow coax their child into the bookstore/library, (yes, they still exist), they mostly make the choice of picking out books themselves. Sometimes, parents even criticise the books that their child excitedly runs to them with. When this happens, their desire to read is squashed. Let them pick out age appropriate books, and as long as they are not offensive and indecent, let them read.
Those of us who take pleasure in reading and read to ‘get away from it all’, know the intricate relationship that a book, a hot beverage and our favourite reading spot, have. Children should be given the same ambiance. They should have a nifty little shelf or box from which to choose, and a comfy well lit place to relax and read. A throw over, a couple of good book marks, the promise of more books if they finish the ones they have, can dramatically enhance their reading experience.
It is human nature to try to find connections with others. Bonding over books is a great way to derive maximum benefit, a two for one kind of deal in engaging the child, and having a meaningful discussion. Over time, the child will enjoy expressing his or her views, ask opinionated questions and simply be more open to talking about things.
Reading is an acquired skill, but it can be cultivated and nurtured more successfully when the will and motivation blossom within the child. As teachers, we can educate parents about their immense influence in their children’s lives. Tapping into this underutilized resource will undoubtedly make life easier for teachers and ultimately benefit the child in his or her future in all areas of life.
By Rahima Jabeen
Miss Rahima Jabeen is a primary grade school teacher who has taught in Pakistan and Dubai.