raising a booklover

The Red Pen On Tips To Help Your Child Develop A Lifelong Love Of Reading

There are so many wonderful avenues today to enhance your child’s development. But in our rush to enrich our kids I find that many parents don’t emphasise one basic skill - reading. I believe that reading is the foundation of education and it plays an important role in every aspect of our life. Reading helps you improve your vocabulary, develop your imagination and enhance your writing skills. It makes you more knowledgeable and can inculcate self-confidence, helping you become an independent thinker. Above all, it can bring you tremendous joy.

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While some children find it easy to read, reading is a habit, a passion that needs to be nurtured. As a parent of two young children I have learned a lot and here are some of my tips that I’m sure will be useful for you:

Start early

It really helps if you start early and read over a period of time. You can help your child develop the reading habit by reading with them. Get them involved in the process – ask them to identify pictures and read familiar words in a book. Then slowly move to sentences. As their vocabulary increases, play a game where you read one page and they read the other.

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Find time to read

Reading is a great way to bond and spend time together with your children. Very often, while eating breakfast, my son will sift through the newspaper with his father and read the articles on cricket. He reads it himself and asks questions about things he doesn’t understand. I make it a point to read with my children at least once a day even if all we have is fifteen minutes

Ask questions. Encourage use of new words

When we read together, it helps my children improve their comprehension. I was reading a book, where a character was described as “grouchy and grumpy”. I looked at my daughter and asked her what she thought grouchy means? She tightened her muscles and scowled and said to me “Mama, like Mr. Scrooge. He was also grouchy and grumpy” She did not know the meaning of grouchy but was able to infer it from what I was reading. A couple of days later, we had an early morning flight to catch. My excited daughter was up and ready, grinning at me and sipping her milk. She looked at her brother, then me and said cheekily “Mama, Ayaan is grouchy today!” This word is embedded in her brain.

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Not just storybooks!

Expose yourself and your children to new ideas, literature, and styles of writing. Read magazine articles, menus and news magazines such as Young World. When we read we often explore the concept of fact vs. fiction. My son is very interested in the solar system, so instead of reading a storybook, we read “The Solar System” by Emily Bone. He understood that what he is reading is “real” versus the storybooks about talking animals and flying carpets. He learned words like craters, orbit, revolve, planets and meteorites. The idea is to spark their curiosity and willingness to want to know more.

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Let your imagination loose!

I love the way reading sparks my children’s imagination and gets them to think of possibilities. My daughter’s favourite book is “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” by Judith Kerr. At the end of the book, the main character waits in anticipation for the tiger to come back, but the author ends the story by saying “… and he never did (return)”. This last sentence has played in my daughter’s mind and she wonders about it. She lets her imagination take over and every time we read the story she thinks of a different ending. In one version, a hippo then came to tea and he ate the lion’s food, in another version the girl goes out to search for the tiger and finds him and they have tea in the jungle and so on. Stories can inspire your child to think about what can happen next – useful for building logic skills later.

Here are books that I love reading with my children:

  • The Tiger Who came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  • Daddy Lion’s Tea Party by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton
  • Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth by Penelope Harper and Cate James
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
  • Brown Paper Bear by Neil Reed
  • The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
  • Shark’s Big Surprise by A.H. Benjamin and Bill Bolton
  • Namaste Mumbai by Rachana Chandaria – Mamania and Kavita Bafana
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Tin Tin Comics by Herge

Do you have any tried and tested tips to raise a book lover? Let us know in the comments below!

You may also like: Non fiction books that kids will love to read

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