Books have the power to transcend a person to a new world in a flash. A Book can accompany a lone traveller, make room for contemplation or ignite a spark in the mind of a child. Reading helps in squirting the brain of a young kid with knowledge and infinite wisdom. The most adorable thing about books for young kids is that a ‘Jack and Bean Stalk’ can make children believe in magical beanstalks and a ‘Pinnochio’ tells them that their nose can sprout and grow like a shoot if they lie. Isn’t the virtue of books truly enigmatic….
Here are the established benefits of reading to young children-
- Enhancing knowledge
- Fostering imagination
- Building vocabulary
- Constructively engaged
- Soothing effect
- Improves focus and concentration
- Stimulates thinking skills
- Gives happiness and confidence
- Detoxifies the brain
After knowing the benefits of reading, now next question that pops up in the mind of parents is how to make the child a fluent reader. There are no shortcuts or sure shot mantras but following these simple ways can benefit the children in picking up the habit fast-
Surrounded by books– There is no need to thrust the habit of reading on the child. He might develop an aversion towards books. Simply surround him by books and you will see how effortlessly your tot turns into a bibliophile.
Let the child choose the book– Once in a bookstore my son got enamoured by a book, which had nothing special about it. But I buckled under the toddler tantrums and bought that book. It has been 3 years since, it is still his favourite bed time read. Mothers tend to segregate healthy food choices from the junkie stuff and force their own instinct on the child. But if you really wish to cultivate the habit of reading then hand over the reins to your child. He will master it soon!
Children feel more connected to a certain character of a series like Peppa pig, Maisy Mouse, Bubbles, Pepper, Berenstain bears, Spot, Browny bear. These stories derive inspiration from real life instances and young children relate to them a lot. They are good for beginners with short attention span.
Read out aloud– The other day I got a question from an anxious parent that his 3.5 year old can’t picture read a book. I wanted to say,’’ Have mercy’’ but had to control my emotions. Please be realistic that not every child enjoys picture reading or reading initially. It is a growth process and things don’t work out overnight. Initially let the child enjoy listening to the stories so that he gets enough stimuli to want to read it on his own one day. A child, whether 3 or 13 year old, enjoys listening to a story. There is a World Read Out Aloud Day to encourage children around the world to grab a book, find an audience and read out aloud! Needless to say, it is impactful. While reading to young children (if they are looking at the book) you can glide your fingers with the words.
Membership of a library– Habits are contagious, children eventually follow the footsteps of parents. So if you want your child to read books then visit a library, pick a book, read it together and discuss the characters /story of the book. Reading or listening to a story gives pleasure but talking about funny characters or interesting plot is a delight for children.
Story craft– This isn’t necessarily an elaborate process and you do not need to have an artistic bent to do this. Make ice cream stick puppets, paper plate masks, plastic spoon puppets or just free hand doodling on a piece of paper. It adds a flavour to the simple story listening and children simply love it. We have also enacted The Mixed Up Chameleon where my son creatively tweaked the story to make it more funny.
Phonics or no phonics– Whether you introduce phonics or let them discover the language at their own pace, children will start reading either ways. It is better to do what is followed by your child’s school, to avoid confusion.
No set age limit– Every child is unique, some children start reading independently very early whereas others pick it up late. Parents should not get anxious about it.
Fun ways to improve reading skills-
Sight words– Most of the children are visual learners. So write the words, (the, and, I, you…) which are not phonetically true, on a paper and stick at a place where the child could see them all the time.
You can cut small pieces from newspaper or magazines randomly. Then let the child circle a particular word like ‘them’ ‘and’ ‘you’. This game is fun and improves reading sight words.
Alphabet Tambola/Bingo is another such game where the child can cut the sight words which are spoken by you. It is fun if 2-3 kids play the game together.
Playing word games– We played lots of word reading games together. In matching cards game I made small cards with 3-4 letter words written on them, 2 identical cards with same words. They were shuffled and then we had to find pairs of similar cards.
Scrabble is another game which improves word power.
We also play Musical Alphabet Hopscotch where we draw an alphabet stapoo on floor. We play music and stop it randomly, now the child has to give a word beginning with the alphabet written on the box where he has reached. This game improves vocabulary.
Creative ending– Encourage the child to summarise the story, suggest a different ending or discuss the favourite character of the story. You will be amazed by their responses. Instead of falling for protagonist my son generally has trees and small unnoticeable characters as his favourite ones. He comes up with quirky reasoning for his fascination with them, I always appreciate it.
Keep reading, The more the merrier!
If you like, dislike, agree or disagree with my views please share in the comment box below, I would love to know your thoughts.