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Teaching and motivating children to read
How to inspire the love of reading in children
Children are by nature curious and love to explore and learn many things. Children learn by imitating in the first few years of their life. The love for reading should be instilled in them even when they are very little. The best age to initiate your kids into the habit of reading would be when they turn over and learn to hold their heads up. Plastic picture books, baby books with attractive and colorful pictures are best introduced at this age. You may find that the books tend to become dirty with the drool, but a wet wipe would make the book as good as new for your child once again. When my children were small, I had often noticed that when I picked up a book to read they would want to read theirs. This quality of learning by imitation is what we really need to tap into, to inspire children to read at a young age.
Encouraging children to read - some tips
Reading little stories by acting them out, by modulating your voice and adding appropriate action and facial expressions, could draw your children into this wonderful habit of reading even before he or she learns to walk.
Children need to be provided with age appropriate books that are interesting and appealing to them. Books that could double up as activity books for scribbling and colouring would be suitable for younger children. Very often it is found that children who have not started the habit of reading early find it difficult to understand concepts and have difficulty in academics. Just as speaking and listening go hand in hand, so are reading, writing and cognitive skills.
Research has shown that good readers interact with their text emotionally and mentally. Books are the best way to get your child to think visually, connect to emotions and link the contents that they are reading to what they see. There is a lot of learning happening in those little brains. Conceptual associations, mental imaging and colouring with emotions happen even as they read the simple text. This is what researchers say is an important skill for effective reading even at the university level.
Reading books - inspire the love of reading in children
To get your child interested in reading, help your child to make scrapbooks of things that he/she is interested in. For example if the child is interested in vehicles, it would be good to have a scrapbook of all kinds of vehicles. Older children could be guided to their own research to find the names of vehicles, the country of manufacture and its usefulness. Building a story around the scrapbook images is another wonderful idea to inspire creative thinking in children. When they write their own stories, they are inspired to read and explore other story books. The child might need a little bit of help initially, but once you get them going, you may only have to supply the material.
Another wonderful way of inspiring your child to read is to have a group of children your child’s age and read the story to them. Group activities are more entertaining and inspiring for younger children. You could also ask them to make up a story with each child contributing one sentence or one idea. This is a fun game, but it inspires them to think and to be interested in what they are doing.
I would often buy old storybooks with missing pages at throwaway prices from schools at the end of the year. I would cut up phrases and words from different stories and ask my children to put them together to make a new story. Both my sons have enjoyed playing this game and we would make up new stories each day. You may have to provide a little guidance for smaller children.
Today, many online, age appropriate books and sites are available for your children to use. These are quite interactive and appealing to your child. It does save you a lot of time and effort; nevertheless, I would still say it does not replace the joy of kids making their own books.
It would also help if the content that children read is something that they could see, touch and experience for themselves. For example, if a toddler reads a book about animals, a visit to the zoo or a nature park would surely help in bringing alive what they have read. I remember my excitement as a child when I saw a real ladybug for the first time. I had read lady bug books for a long time and to see one in real life was like a dream come true. Experiences like these that have emotional value, help inspire and take your child’s interest in reading to another level.
Taking children for book releases where they could to see their favourite author and get a book autographed by their hero could become a great inspiration for children to read. They become proud of their collection of books and start developing a deeper interest in books. This could make you a little poorer as you may have to buy the books at a premium price, but it is still worth it. My younger son has made sure that he reads all the books by his favourite author. He and his friends plan to buy a different book; they exchange books and read to their hearts content. However, he is sure to get back his autographed books and carefully preserves them.
Some children would require more encouragement than others would and some might require more help than others do. Reading is a habit and it needs to be formed with consistent effort. I can tell you - they will thank you for helping form this habit. My oldest son is a voracious reader. The younger one is more action oriented. I fill the shelves with books that have interesting facts on sports, cars, planes and wildlife and he always finds something interesting to read. Though it had been hard to get my younger child to read initially, he has now become a good reader showing interest in varied subjects. I would like to end saying teaching children to read is not a hard task, but just a habit formation like any other. So go on and inspire your children to read!
Resources you could use for teaching and inspiring your child to read
Use a wide range of books that introduces different topics to your child. Do not go by what is popular, your child may not really care for it. Buy what interests your child and take it from there.
Here is a link to a wide collection of books you could choose from. The little golden books were my favorites.
I would suggest that you take your child to the bookstore let him read what interest him and then buy those.