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Book rues


Storytelling session

Storytelling session

A worried mother once called me and said, “My son hates reading. How do I get him to read?” She had seen a picture of a workshop I had done with kids and thought as an author of children’s fiction I ought to know the magic way to get children to read. “Do you read?” was my first question. I was not surprised when she told me that both she and her husband hated reading.

Her son topped his IB school in all subjects but the only complaint/comment from the school was that he would not read. So? Well, apparently, we parents want flawless children. We hate reading, will not be caught dead reading a book, but we want our kids to devour books. This young mother had put her son in ‘book reading classes’ –yes they exist—but they had to take him off because every time he went in he would sit there and cry. Disgusted, I sent her off telling her to start reading books herself and I certainly hope the poor chap had some respite. However if book reading is important to you there are indeed things you can do to encourage your child to do so.

1)      Really and truly start reading yourself: If you and your husband both enjoy reading, there is a very high chance that your child will want to explore with words. Kids imitate their parents. Parents are their first role models. My husband does not like to read. But I read everywhere: when I eat, when I rest, my washroom is stacked with books… and so both my kids are found poring over books.

My point is that if you and your husband prefer other activities rather than reading or simply hate reading, there is a very small chance that your kids will choose to read. But more importantly, if reading is not important to you, please do not stress kids to get them to start reading. The first thing that is bad for reading, is force.

Start exploring books yourself. Read to your children. Bedtime stories are the best times in the world. Children get to unwind and you get to bond with your child.

2)       Surround your child with books: Give your child his own space to stack his books. Make book shopping exciting. Allowing them to pick their books and allowing them their space to store their books will make a great difference. Don’t place rules for their books. It’s theirs to read as they please.

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9 thoughts on “Book rues

  1. Sudha Kumar

    Great post Vinitha and can’t agree with you more on leading by example. At home, both my husband and I read voraciously, though our tastes our quite different. My son has taken the best of both worlds approach and his choice is pretty eclectic. While our daughter does not read as widely, she still reads a fair bit. Especially in today’s world where there are so many reasons not to read, the home environment can make a big difference.

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  2. Kritika

    Telling stories is another great way to encourage children to read. If you tell enough stories and excite them to the possibility of whole new worlds waiting between the covers of a book, once they do learn how to read, children will keep reaching out for more!

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    1. Vinitha

      Yes reading to your children is a great way to encourage them to read. And yes story telling is another powerful tool. I’ve grown up never seeing my parents read… perhaps they were too busy then. But my mom is the world’s greatest story teller and I think her magical stories both borrowed and original has set all of us reading.

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  3. Rajan Menon

    A very relevant post Vinitha, in this maverick times of television. And really isn’t reading the most rudimentary skill to get our children to explore their own minds and create vivid imagination. . Point well expressed in the thought that children tend to follow our ‘video’ more than our ‘audio’ !!

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  4. Meera Srinivasan

    Very nicely captured and agree completely! I have had friends ask me how come your daughter likes reading -it never occurred to me the environment at home has played a such a huge role! Our daughter has grown up seeing us read, visiting book shops and these days ordering books online!

    Some common assumptions that are made are that children’s ability to read comes innately, girls read more than boys etc! But I strongly believe all kids can read!

    Along with the excellent tips you have given it will also help to read a book together with you kid so you can discuss it. In some cases, this will help them go to the next level; for example when my daughter was in grade 5 she was skeptical about trying harry potter, she was a bit intimidated by the size of the book – we read the first book along with her and in 4 months she had read the series!

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    1. Vinitha

      Thanks Meera. I agree with you. Reading along with kids really helps initiate them into the next level of reading. You’re a parent who reads and so its wonderful to see how you’ve tackled this concern. Many parents I encounter do not read themselves and also perceive reading intimidating themselves. Thanks for sharing this.

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