By Blossom Otuaro
J.K Rowling once said, ‘If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book’ and James Patterson reiterated this truth by saying, ‘there’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.’ Every loving parent wants their children to be the best possible version of themselves and reading early may very well boost that because it not only builds your vocabulary and stimulates your imagination, it helps prevent age-related cognitive decline as well as improves brain connectivity.
Every child should read and here are some ways that you can encourage yours to:
- Be a reading role model: Kids take cues from adults – you’re the role model and what they see is what they do. Be a good reading role model to your children by actively engaging in literature with them when you can. Let them see that you enjoy it and they’d want to try it too!
- Talk about books: Many kids enjoy chattering about things. Let books be part of the chatter. Engage in conversation with your child about a book they’ve read. It helps with memory and practices conversation skills – killing two birds with one stone.
- Get a book suited for them: Every child is unique and so are their interests. Forcing an obvious adventure-lover to read a book about kittens may not be the best option to encourage your child to read. Don’t forget that they’re so many types of books and yes, comic books are books. Oh and if your child indeed likes adventure, I recommend ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.
- Let them choose a book: It’s great that you’re putting in the effort to find a book suitable for your child, but once in a while, pop into the nearby library or the book shop and let them choose their own book. They’ll more likely read the one that they hand-picked.
- Make time for reading: I’d dread the very idea of a book if I had to read it when I was meant to go on a fun field trip or early in the morning when I could barely keep my eyes open. Set aside a time of the day to read books that’s convenient for them so it doesn’t turn into a dreaded chore.
- Create a comfy reading area: An area with pillows, snacks and juice where good music plays (Ludovico Einaudi maybe?) would be a great place to get comfortable with a book in hand. Or you could be adventurous and build a fort in the living room or use some cardboard to create an outdoor sanctuary. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and create an enjoyable space for reading.
- Incentivize reading: Give your child something to look forward to after reading a book. It could be that after reading ten books, you get ice cream or have a meal in their favourite restaurant. This would encourage them to read and you’ll be closer to your hopes of them falling in love with it.
- Tell your own stories: Someone wrote the books that they will read so let them take a go at being authors too. Perhaps for a change, let them tell you a bedtime story. It’s wonderful how creative children get when they’re given a chance. And who knows? You may be hearing the first drafts of a future Best-seller.
- Include fun activities: A fun puzzle of pirates after reading Treasure Island or a family game night quiz on Dr. Seuss would help to keep a fun atmosphere around books and keep them in a positive light.
Reading is a great activity that I believe all kids should have a good go at. Remember that not everything works for a child; perhaps yours prefers the fort to the outdoor sanctuary, but there’s a reader in every child and consistency in your parenting effort to bring the reader out will go a long way because indeed ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ Hats off to Dr. Seuss for that quote.