Encouraging Our Children to become Lifelong Readers and Learners.

By Puja Chandra Nanda

The more you read, the more things you will know, the more you learn, the more places you will go”Dr. Seuss

Kick Start the Reading Habit Early On:

A newly minted National Reading Movement was launched by the NLB in July this year, holding events and contests to encourage all Singaporeans to read. While it made many adults dive into their reading bucket lists for the year; here are some reminders to encourage children to read and discover the innate joy in reading.

There is nothing as effective in encouraging children to read as it is to expose them to books and the joy of reading early in life. You do not have to wait for long to introduce your child to reading; even a 6 month old baby can see, touch and feel books. He can hear your voice as you read, watch your lips as they form words and respond to expressions on your face.

It is a good idea to get musical books, books that have googly eyes or mirrors which can allow the child to interact with the book. Young kids, who cannot read as yet, can use their sense of touch to explore the book. Choose books that are colorful and have pop-ups or fluffy images for kids to touch – such as a bear’s fur or a lion’s mane.

You could hook a book to a child’s stroller, so she could identify it as her possession and look at it often. Don’t worry if your bub loves to chew on the book rather than read. You could also get him or her bath books as the bath is a great time for the kids to relax and read.

Keep The Reading Momentum On:

For school going children, it is imperative that being read to and reading by themselves becomes a part of their daily routine. Read to them often and encourage them to start reading age- appropriate books on their own.

In Singapore, public libraries are a big boon. Visit the library as a family and help your kids choose books. Soaking into the atmosphere of a library with shelves full of books and people reading all around you, can be self- motivating.

If your child is able to access books as easily as he can access the TV remote or the iPad, you won’t have to fret about encouraging your child to read. If your child loves some TV characters, let the child read books based on them.

Introduce them to varied authors and genres so they can identify where their interest lies. Talk to them about the books they read, the characters they enjoy and how it affects them. Taking interest in their reading world will motivate them.

Get children into the habit of unwinding before bedtime with a book. You could also make it a parent-child bonding activity by reading to or reading with your child at bedtime.

Read By Example and Positive Reinforcement:

Many times, we make the mistake of coercing children to read or project reading as a punishment which makes children averse to it. It is important to project and reinforce reading time as a leisure activity or a reward activity akin to TV and gaming time.

Lastly, children love to imitate elders in the house so if you are a bookworm, it is likely that your child will be one too. Most adults who are avid readers are those who were hooked to the habit of reading as kids. So just find time to read yourself and give the opportunity to your child to explore and read a wide variety of books and you won’t have to push them anymore. Once the children know the magic of reading, there will be no turning back from becoming life long readers and learners.

As Stephen King famously said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.