Helping children rediscover the joy of reading
You’ve just become a mother and there are numerous things on your mind from feeding your child to his vaccination schedule and monitoring milestones. All of these are no doubt important, however, there is one more item that I’d like to add to this list of important must-dos. And that is reading to your child.
But wait a minute…didn’t I just say ‘you’ve just become a mother’?
How young is too young to read to your little one? Never too young, if you ask me. I started reading to my firstborn from around when he was a month old. Of course, back then it seemed like I was reading more to myself than the baby. But we soon graduated to a time, when he would make sounds, point to things and yes try to put the book into this mouth. And from then on to when we would do a little Q&A session along with each book –
‘…on Monday he ate through one….’,‘…apple’ my son would say excitedly while reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ for the umpteenth time.
The benefits of reading to kids from an early age have been well documented and a quick Google search can overwhelm you with proven research, facts, and figures. At a more personal level, reading has provided me with an opportunity to bond with my children, to expose them to the wonders of the world from the comfort of our home and to understand what interests them most.
As the years progressed and my boys got bigger, so did our home library and their sense of curiosity. My boys aged 8 and 6 now, are able to read on their own but still want to be read to. We have developed our routine of reading a book or two before bedtime. Of picking up a new book at the airport before catching a flight. Of taking a book along to the doctor’s clinic, a restaurant and pretty much any place where we know there’s a wait involved.
Is there a right way of reading to your child? I don’t think there is a formula. But here are a few things I have discovered. Be persistent but not forceful. You want your child to develop a love for books and not think of it as a chore. Allow your child to choose books that interest him- this is especially true for older kids, which explains why our home library is so full of books on soccer now. Children do interrupt while being read to (a lot…in my case) – and this is quite alright. You could set some ground rules such as ‘no questions till we are done with a page’ – but asking questions is a part of the process. Set a routine, build a tradition – bedtime stories for instance. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have fun. Treat this as a much-needed quality time for you as well. It’s incredible how much I have learned from the books I have been reading to my kids – but I’ll save that topic for later.
Subhashini is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with experience in the high tech industry. She is a mother to two rambunctious boys and enjoys writing short stories and articles, travel and yoga.