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How to get your child to read during the pandemic

Is your child reading enough? Pose this question to parents today and you will only get them to complain —

“My daughter is only interested in television. She plays video games throughout the weekend and is on the internet all the time! I think she is embarrassed to pick up a book!”

Whether it’s embarrassment (because it’s uncool to be labelled a ‘nerd’ at one point in your life), distractions, overpowering influences or plain laziness, the truth is books have become secondary or in some cases, insignificant parts in children’s lives.

children reading books

But reading is not just the accumulation of information or knowledge. This poem by Dr Seusss sums it up very nicely:

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

I can read in red. I can read in blue.

I can read in pickle colour too.

I can read in bed, and in purple. and in brown.

I can read in a circle and upside down!

I can read with my left eye. I can read with my right.

I can read Mississippi with my eyes shut tight!

There are so many things you can learn about.

But…you’ll miss the best things 

If you keep your eyes shut.

The more that you read, the more things you will know

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. 

If you read with your eyes shut you’re likely to find

That the place where you’re going is far, far behind

SO…that’s why I tell you to keep your eyes wide.

Keep them wide open…at least on one side.

An important part of parenting is inculcating a love for books and reading in children. They are keys to unlocking our potential and can also help the family bond over common favourites.

As more people stay home due to COVID-19, this could be the perfect time to get your children to read without making it boring or a chore.

Here are some simple ideas to get started.

Read aloud

Research has indicated that reading aloud stimulates language development even before a child can talk. So, you can begin as early as eight months. Once your kids begin to understanding, reading aloud brings every story alive.

Be a tiger, a lion, a fairy, a prince or anything you wish. Make this a habit and once the kids are older, the kids will pick up the books and start to read on their own.

Create a reading nook

Designate an area of your home as a reading nook. Decorate with bookshelves, comfortable sofas with throw pillows and bean bags. Keep a bowl of candy and reward your child for every book they read.

You could also recreate some of the stories in this nook by asking your children to design props or handicrafts. For example, put up a simple paper puppet show to showcase a fairy tale or pitch a tent to get a feeling of the outdoors. You can run riot with your creativity and imagination.

Plan a trip to the library

At least twice a month, plan a trip to the library. Make it an outing that you and they will remember. Get them their own library cards.

Help them choose the books they would like…and afterwards take them to a park or garden where they can sit and read.

Make every activity book-centric

Whether it’s cooking in the kitchen with your kids, a nature walk or a trip to the museum, subtly introduce fun books on the subject from time to time. You’ll be amazed at how far this quest for knowledge can go.

Be a role model

If you like books and are a reader yourself, there are more chances your kids will emulate you. You can introduce your favourite writers, the books you read as a child and share some of your reading memories as well.

Go tech

There’s nothing like the physical act of holding a book in your hands and reading. But since we live in a world where technology touches every aspect of our lives, reluctant readers can be enticed with ebooks on the Kindle. The advantage is that there are many free books out there and you are really spoilt for choice.

Get audiobooks

Audiobooks are also becoming popular among book lovers; introduce your children to them as well. There are hundreds of audiobooks for children in authors’ voices on Audible and Storytel that will engage and enthral them with some master storytelling.

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