How Can You Raise A Young Book Lover
We live in a crowded and chaotic world where books compete with a whole host of technologies like the television, mobile phones, tablets, and social media. However, we, as parents, need to realise that these other pursuits do not develop imagination and creativity, and indeed curb them to a great extent. Books are the greatest tools there are, to unlock your child’s imagination and creativity.
Books are a great way to bond with babies and young children. Reading to your kids and sharing stories helps you to build your relationship with them while also nurturing their development in myriad ways.
According to Jim Trelease, author of the best-seller, The Read-Aloud Handbook: “Every time we read to a child, we’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain… You could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure”
Why should you read to your child?
- Reading helps your child to value books and stories – a young reader takes care of their books!
- Reading stimulates the imagination of the child and makes them more curious about the world around them.
- Reading is an excellent early learning tool, designed to help your child to get to know sounds, words, grammar and language.
- Reading has been proven to help your child’s brain development, and his social and communication skills.
- Reading to children improves the process of cognitive development.
- Reading makes your child feels grounded, because your child gets to know the difference between the real and make believe world through books.
- Children’s books are an excellent visual medium - sometimes, just turning pages and making a story with the pictures is a great way to engage with your children.
- Books, when chosen with care, can be a great way to help your child deal with big changes and emotions in their lives.
The different stages of reading across age groups
Reading from birth
This is a great stage to start reading! Reading at this stage helps your baby know the world around them, including your voice, sounds and the changing tone of your voice while you read.
- Read & turn pages slowly and spend time on each page while you read the words.
- Point out any familiar or new things on the pages and be sure to describe them in your own words too – babies pickup languages faster when they hear more words being spoken to them.
- Keep changing your tone while you read, your baby will learn the nuances of speech from these changing tones.
- Use books with bright colors and contrasts since they are easy for babies to focus on.
- Use sensory books which have different textures for your baby to touch and feel the books.
- Use board books which are more hardy for baby’s use.
Reading from 12 months - 18 months
Your child has, by now, learnt most of the sounds made in the language you speak, so this is a great time to introduce your child to books with lots of words for him to hear.
- Let your baby choose the book, and help him to hold and turn the pages.
- Repeat favorite books while at the same time introducing new and different books.
- Set a routine by starting a practice of reading before bedtime – a bed time story book or just storytelling from your family stories – all are great modes of engaging with the child.
- Use the rhythm of the book to tap and get your child to tap along as you read the story.
- Use board books, lift the flap books, and sensory books which have illustrations or simple pictures of daily life objects like food, transport, animals, toys, babies, body parts and similar.
Reading to a speaking toddler (18 months – 36 months)
Your child is constantly picking up and enunciating new words at this stage.
- While reading a familiar book, pause at the end of the sentences to let child finish the sentences for you.
- Point and ask “What is this?” and let the child answer.
- Introduce sounds of animals and transport and read books that have sound words. Make it fun, and have the child make the sounds along with you.
- Sing nursery rhymes or fun songs together.
- Use board books, popup books, lift the flap books about favorite topics or books that relate to their playtime activities.
Reading to a preschooler (3 years and above)
Your child is now capable of carrying on full-fledged conversations with you, so conversations around books are a great way to engage with your child now.
- Talk a lot about the book before reading to the child.
- Ask questions about what the book might be about, and ask the child to look through the pages of the book and try to come up with the story based on the pictures.
- Ask your child questions about the story while reading the book like “What do you think happens next?”, “Who do you think came next?” and let the child predict what might happen next.
- Sing or chant repetitive phrases together with the child.
- Notice and point out capital and small alphabets, discuss about pronunciations, the small and large letters that make up the book and the quirks of the books (like “small” is written in smaller font and “BIG” is written in capitals or larger font).
- Discuss the pictures on each page and ask questions – “Why do you think the snail has a sad face?”, “Why do you think the girl is crying?” and similar questions.
- Choose picture and illustrated books about alphabets, size, counting books; simple story books about families, friends, and going to school; books about similarly aged characters with quirky traits; books that have mild humor and sense of fun; and books that relate to the child’s interests in topics like dinosaurs, ocean, space, travel etc.
Hot Tips for raising a little book lover!
Below are some of the most impactful ways you can help your child develop a love for reading and foster a lifelong connection to books.
- Read books yourself – children learn a lot by seeing and imitating.
- Flipping through pages while looking at pictures is also reading.
- Babies, toddlers and young children love books with the 3 Rs – Rhythm, Rhyme and Repetition.
- Set a routine and read a few books around the same time each day.
- Setup your own cosy reading space with a comfortable seating to read with your child.
- Keep books at an accessible height for the child to reach.
- Turn off all other distractions – switch off the TV, music, and keep your phone and tabs away while reading.
- Let your child choose the books to read but be prepared to read the same books over and over again.
- Keep your child engaged by encouraging discussions about the books that are being read.
- Draw comparisons between real life and books by equating situations to those in books that have been read. Weave in familiarity.
- Use books as a medium of engaging with your child about emotions and big changes in their lives by introducing specific books at opportune moments (for example – a book about a new baby when you are about to have a second child).
- Hold your child close or on your knee while reading so that they can see the pictures up close.
- Bilingual books are a great way for your child to become a linguist.
- Take a library membership. It will help you buy lesser and still have more books to read. Studies have shown that there are positive associations between public library use and reading aloud.
- Don’t force them to read, and allow the child to lead.
A love for books is a very valuable gift to give your child! Happy reading aloud!
“You are never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” – Dr. Seuss