“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” – Maya Angelou
There are people who occasionally pick up a book and browse through the pages. Then there are those who live and breathe books. Most parents would love their kids to be of the latter kind, especially if they’re avid book lovers themselves!
The connection between a healthy development and reading is well documented, with experts across the globe encouraging parents to read to their kids. Here are just some of the benefits of cultivating a reading habit early:
- The first six years of a child’s life are the time of maximum brain development, and this is the best time to get them accustomed to books
- Starting early ensures a better reading level when the child starts school, which translates into a good head start when it comes to academic success.
- Learning to focus on a page at a time helps children to train their minds early to concentrate and improves attention spans
- Learning to read is a huge confidence booster and encourages the child to be more willing towards learning new skills
- Starting to read at a very early age relieves the child of any pressure unlike it would be in school. At this age, reading is purely for enjoyment and not a chore
- Reading improves language, which improves both oral and written communication skills.
Now that you know how important it is to introduce your little champ to books you must be wondering when and how to cultivate reading habit in your young ones. The answer to the first question is – NOW! It’s never too early to start; you can read to your baby when he’s in utero! Seriously, the earlier the better, so your child thinks of reading as a way of life rather than a special event. Here are some tips to help you kick start the reading habit.
How to Cultivate Reading Habit from Childhood
1. Keep a collection handy
What do you need to start a reading habit? Books, of course! Keep a collection of classic children’s titles and have some variety to begin with. Ask your baby or toddler to pick one out and read it to him. Toddlers might prefer the same book over and over again, but humor them anyway.
2. Make story time fun
The most interesting story can become boring with a monotonous read through! Entertain your child as you read, with lots of sound effects and noises. Babies as young as 6 months will enjoy your histrionics and will soon start to imitate them as well. Toddlers will also be able to connect words to sounds and develop their vocabulary.
3. Get books based on interest
While initially you’ll have to keep a variety of books on offer, as your child grows, you’ll find that he prefers certain subjects. If your child enjoys the whacky rhymes by Dr. Seuss, get him the whole collection! By all means, indulge their passions and get them books based on their interests; they’re more likely to pick them up and look at the pictures.
4. Get interactive books with textures
Babies and toddlers learn a lot by tactile stimulation, which makes interactive books a great idea for this age group. Lift-the-flaps, pop ups, buttons, different textures, and pull-outs are fun ways for young kids to ‘play’ with their books, even if Mom or Dad isn’t available to read to them. Also look for bath books that can be used in water.
5. Reading corner
It’s a great idea to have a dedicated reading corner for your child, where she can go to for some quiet time with her books. All you need is comfortable seating and shelves or baskets for the books. You can modify it as your child grows older and decorate it according to a theme of her choice.
6. Take them to bookstores
Taking a jumpy toddler to a store can sound like a nightmare, but try to get over the fear! Make sure they’re well rested before a visit to a bookstore and they’re sure to enjoy the experience. Most places allow children to browse through the pages and have dedicated places for it. Be careful though; stay with your child at all times and don’t let him tear pages or destroy books.
7. Be a role model
When wondering how to cultivate reading habit in your child, don’t forget to practice what you preach! Kids learn the most by imitation, so give them something worthwhile to imitate! Let your child see you read the morning paper, a book at night or a novel on the weekends. They’ll soon want to act all grown up by reading a book! Don’t forget the influence of older siblings too!
8. Set a time for reading
While there isn’t any magical time to pick up a book, setting aside a fixed time everyday helps including it into the routine. Most parents prefer bedtime; since that’s when both parents are home and the child is sufficiently settled down to listen. Be sure to choose calming books for bedtime; you don’t want to re-excite your toddler!
9. Talk about the book
Don’t just read through the text of the book. Talk about what you see and read, and try to connect the contents to real life as much as possible. This will interest your child more as he relates to the events unfolding within the book. Conversely, when you’re outside and you see something that was in a book, remind your child about the book where you saw it in last. This will keep the thought of the book alive in his mind for longer.
10.Don’t force them
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t force your child to read and turn an enjoyable activity into one that ends in tears! When wondering how to cultivate a reading habit, parents often get too eager. Initially, your child might be more interested in stacking his books rather than turning the pages, but let him do what he wants. He’ll soon come about to looking inside the book and he’ll find that it interests him.
Starting to read early introduces the child to a whole world out there and she is aware from a tender age that there is so much more in the world to read and see. By getting her books of her choice and sticking to a reading schedule, you can be sure that sooner or later, your little one will always be found with her nose buried in between the pages of a book!
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Article By Fabida Abdulla
Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum Stay at Home Mom to her boisterous 6 year old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes.