By Aruj Sipra
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
– Maya Angelou
When you think about Reading, what comes to your mind? For me, it’s more than just reading books, it is like opening a door to allow in more light. Reading is an important requirement for gaining wisdom and knowledge. Reading certainly helps to develop our power to imagine, broaden our intellectual horizon and helps us develop learning skills. Reading a written subject and developing an understanding of it is a skill that is cultivated over time. It helps to makes a personality more cultured.
Born into a family that loves reading and who are literally walking, talking encyclopedias, I acknowledge that reading is in my blood. It became a joke in the family that “if somebody wants to meet my father or uncles, he would probably need a full day to enjoy their company, not just few hours.” Why is that? You must be wondering! The reason is they are jam-packed with not just worldly knowledge but with lots of practical experiences in life and they all yearn for sharing them. One has to have a genuine excuse to leave early. I have been fortunate to be raised in a diverse environment where teaching and reading were important. My brother, who is just two years elder than me, is my inspiration when it comes to reading books. He started reading from a very young age, thanks to our grandfather, who instilled the love for reading in him. Whatever books he read from comics to Enid Blyton series to Alistair MacLean‘s books, he handed them over to me. At times it became a race between us to see who finished the book first! For those curious about the results, I made it second to the finish line, always.
The ability to read is a powerful tool, but a passion for reading is even more powerful. When we are young, our parents especially our mothers read us bed-time stories. In our case it was mostly my husband who told the same bed-time story to our son every night. Amazingly when my husband would change the sequence of story unknowingly or even knowingly, the two year old would immediately correct my husband to put the sequence right. It shows how a story had developed child’s sense of imagination and understanding just by listening and perceiving in such a fragile age.
As we grow older and enter school, our teachers read and through hearing their words, our imaginations go to work and transport us from where we are to a new place found in a book. Being a kindergarten teacher, I can say that by evolving a student’s passion for reading at an early age through enthusiastic reading, one can invite them to discover new concepts and experiences.
Home environment plays an important part in influencing their intellectual development and school learning. A great deal of research has been carried out on family environment and results have proved that children who do well in school come from families where parents, grandparents are involved in their education.
During my eight years of teaching experience, I always encouraged parents to be involved in children’s reading throughout their school years. By encouraging babies and young children to communicate, parents are laying the foundation for later reading success.
Make reading enjoyable
First of all, find a spot in your home for a family library. It can be a corner in a room with comfortable furniture, a bookshelf and adequate lighting will do wonders. A small collection of books can be stacked on the bookshelf. You can also put some magazines and newspapers on the table.
Reading role models
Most children want to be like their parents. They start mimicking them from a very young age. If they see parents visiting libraries, giving and receiving books as gifts, and borrowing and loaning books to friends, they will know their parents place a high value on reading.
Reading and stories as part of life
You should read books in front of the children ask them questions and also share stories you remember from your childhood. Tell them the names of your favourite books. Discuss ideas or themes within the stories. You can pause for a second while reading and wait for them to ask you ‘what will happen now’. Encourage interest in the story rather than just focusing on the mechanics of reading.
Make reading interesting and fun
Let yourself go while you are reading out loud. You can use lots of expression, in your voice and in your face and body too. You can also try different sound effects. They will either love it or tell you to calm down. When you spent time reading to toddlers, they will be much more likely to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way.
Encourage creativity and imagination
Take “picture walks”. Help your child use the picture clues in reading and pictures to tell the story before reading. This would develop child’s imagination and expression spheres.
Make reading a priority
A short 10 minutes every night at bed time or an hour during the day, set a specific time for reading. The biggest motivator for children is often as simple as knowing that adults are rooting for their success.
Summers are upon us, so here are some practical suggestions you can implement everyday. You can’t implement all these suggestions with children of all ages, so use them wisely what is best for your child.
- Read to your child every day!
- Ask your child questions before, during, and after reading
- Let your child see you reading
- Have fun rhyming!
- Look for letters while out and about and around you
- Most of all, have fun together!
Once the child gets into the habit of reading books, he will not only be a better student, but a better person.
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
– Groucho Marx
About the author:
Aruj Sipra is the community manager at MuslimMoms.ca