Reading to Children

As parents one of the greater gifts we can give our children is a love of reading. In an age dominated by Television and the Internet, reading books may not seem to be very important. But in fact, studies have found that the reading habit, especially in young children, has very many benefits

  • Exposure – Books help a child to make sense of the world around her. Children use real life experiences to help them understand books and in turn, books help children understand real life.
  • Company – Stories help a child to place his feelings and his experiences in perspective. He learns that other people have similar feelings, he learns that there are all kinds of experiences to be had in the world. As such a reader is rarely lonely even when alone.
  • Creativity – Books open up a sense of wonder in a child. Stories develop the imagination and an ability to think flexibly.
  • Language – Reading improves a child’s fluency in the written language, as distinct from fluency in the spoken language. It contributes to an enhanced vocabulary.
    ” Knowledge – Children pick up knowledge from books, often without realizing it. As such reading makes learning fun.

So how do you ensure that your child is a good reader? Well, studies show that the best method for encouraging reading is to read to your child from as early an age as possible. Its true that reading is highly time consuming and may well mean curtailing some hard earned (and sorely needed) recreational time. But consider these facts :-

No activity or learning tool can replace reading in terms of its benefits to the children.

Lot of parents feel that with the advent of Satellite Television and the Internet their children don’t need to read books The benefits gained by reading books are available through these other avenues. The children themselves further support this view as both TV and the Internet are a more attractive media. But the power of the written word can not be replaced by anything. This is not to say that the audio-visual aids, like TV and internet, don’t contribute to the child’s learning. They are extremely important if used effectively. Read Working with Computers for knowing more about how you can incorporate this learning tool into your child’s everyday life.

Reading to your child is a comparatively inexpensive method of providing love, security, independence, self-esteem, confidence and that extra little competitive edge to your child.

Reading to a child: –

  • Reading to a child helps form a closer bond between parent and child. Reading together creates memories that your children will always treasure.
  • Part of the fun of reading aloud to the child, is that you have to sit close to each other – often the children end up sitting in your lap. Your nearness and your undivided attention ensures that a child feels loved, secure and cared for. This is particularly important for slightly older children with younger siblings.
  • Reading together provides an uninterrupted 20-30 minutes (or more) where parents and children can learn more about each other.
  • The story can be used as a medium to communicate and discuss important values such as honesty, courage, loyalty and love. Children learn easily through stories and at the same time parents obtain important feedback through the kind of questions a child asks. Any important message that you want to convey on values, the world around you, family issues etc will be absorbed and assimilated faster and easier under the cover of an enjoyable story.
  • When you take time out of a busy schedule to read to your child, he learns that he is valued. He learns that however busy you are, you will always have time for him.
  • When you cater to the enjoyment of a child, he learns that in a family, members care about the likes and dislikes of each other. They learn to consider the needs of others as well as their own.
  • The trust and intimacy of regular reading sessions will stand you in good stead in all trying teen years to come.
  • Children learn intonation and pronunciation from listening to an adult read.
  • Studies have shown that a child who was regularly read to by his parents consistently outperforms another child who was not read to. Even more importantly the benefits gained by the former group are not temporary, the gap between the two groups never narrows.

Tips for making reading aloud better for both of you: –

  • Choose books a little above the reading level of your children for reading aloud – it helps to expand vocabulary.
  • Act out the story as much as possible – speak in the voice of the characters, read in a way in keeping with the book – if it is silly make it funny and if it is serious, read it seriously.
  • Try and relate the story to the child’s everyday life.
  • Have fun! Don’t treat it like a chore that you have to do every day. Children tend to sense these negative feelings and they could assume that reading itself is boring.

Making a reader out of your child –

For infants

  • Read aloud to him.
  • Expose him to books, even though in the beginning he will just put them into his mouth!
  • Entertain him with nursery rhymes.
  • Provide colourful picture books to the child.
  • Word books are especially useful to start an infant off.

For Toddlers and Kids

  • Read aloud to her, especially at bedtime. Read the favourites over and over again
  • Surround her with books and magazines of interest to her.
  • Read signs on the road, newspapers, information on food items etc. aloud to her. Label everything.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching TV or playing games on the computer.
  • Try and watch TV shows based on children’s books.
  • Tell your child stories from mythology, especially Indian mythology. Even if you only know a few, share them with her and then get a few Amarchitra Kathas or Panchatantra Tales.
  • If you go on a vacation to new places, encourage your children to read up on the places you plan to visit. Follow it up with helping them make a Travel Book.
  • Do simple crossword puzzles and other word puzzles with your children.
  • Play word games such as scrabble with them.
  • Tell them stories of your own childhood, or of funny family incidents or based on your daily everyday life. Encourage them to make up stories as well.
  • Monitor the books they read to ensure that they are age appropriate.
  • Try out our Reading Fun activities for children.
    Set an example – read books and magazines.

For Pre-teens and Teens

  • If you go on vacations to new places, encourage your children to read up on the place you plan to visit. Follow it up with helping them make a Travel Book.
  • Encourage children to keep diaries – the more fluent they are at reading and writing (complementary skills), the better they will be at expressing themselves and communicating with others.
  • Encourage the child to write letters. You can ask him to write to grandparents or cousins living out of town or you can find him a penpal. Writing letters, especially to penpals, will not only improve his writing skills but also will give him an exposure to another place or country.
  • Encourage them to do crossword puzzles.
  • Play word games such as scrabble with them.
  • Tell them stories of your own childhood, or of funny family incidents or based on your daily everyday life. Encourage them to make up stories as well. You can ask them to Write a Story on a theme or a Screen Playof their favourite story.
  • Monitor the books they read to ensure that they are age appropriate.
  • Encourage them to read the newspaper. You can mention a news-item of interest to them and then suggest they read it.
  • Set them a quiz or research task, especially during the holidays. To look for the answers they will have to look through different magazines and books. Also they will gain essential experience with reference books.
  • Try out our Reading Fun activities for children.
  • Set an example – read books and magazines.

Related Links

Reading fun
Choosing the right books
Creativity

Reviews of Books
Teaching values

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