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Inculcate Reading Habits in Children

Getting children to read

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  ~Charles W. Eliot

Charles Eliot had his facts right. Anyone who has befriended the written word would never be lonely. All booklovers know that they can live several lives, travel innumerable places and do myriad things through their books.  You get to see the perspective of another person and find out that you are not the absolute authority on the topic.

Today our living rooms have been invaded by the television and computer.  Children spend all the free time glued to either of them.

Books teach a lot to the kids. They expand their vocabularies, helping them later in life. The command of the language increases many fold. It gives a boost to the child’s imagination, letting the mind reach the unthinkable and increasing the creativity. Reading about many things vastly improves the child knowledge store. Say for instance you learn more about Africa but reading an interesting story than by the dry course books.

 Parents despair, trying to introduce them to the wonderful world of books. However, everything is not lost with a thimbleful of common sense, a little patience and bushelful of love parents can introduce good reading habits to their kids.

Fix a time for reading

Keep about half an hour daily reserved as reading time. This can be just before bed time or any other time suitable to both. Initially let them read the books you had recounted as children. The story line will be familiar and it will be easy for them to pick out the words.

Start young

Interest in books cannot be generated overnight. It is a slow process where in the child learns to fall in love with the enchanted world of the written world. If the habit of reading is inculcated at the earliest, this will develop slowly as the child grows. Parents have to start as soon as the child is able to understand. Read out stories to your two year old child. Slowly phase out this story telling to story reading.

Baby steps

Parents should be realistic in their expectations. Do not think that the child will jump into reading the very first time they get their hands on the book. The first few times they may falter with pronunciations. Gently correct them. They may even read through the whole page without understanding a word. Instant of explaining the whole book to them, make their brains work.  Ask easy questions about the story. Eventually they will get the hang of deciphering books.


It is very important to teach the kids by setting an example. Ensure that the children see you read. If you read books your children will automatically do the same. It is very difficult to convince a child to read copiously if the parents never pick up a book.  Not only it will be an inspiration but also the kids will find reading together a lot of fun.

Get books on subjects of interest

If the child is a great Pooh fan, get some books on that character. The markets abound with a variety of things related to cartoons. Do a little market survey and get the books of the particular character.  Ensure that the books are colorful and picturesque. The print should be large as reading small print can be tedious.  Go through the books before buying. The words should be of a level understandable by your child. Too easy or too tough books distract the children very easily.

Install aids

There are many supporting aids the parents can utilize to encourage reading. Set up a bulletin board and put cartoons with funny comments on it.  Pin a small limerick or poetry on it for your child to read. You can get an audio book set too. This has a story recorded on tape along with the printed book. The children can catch the nuances of pronunciation as they read along. Put notes in the Tiffin box.  Get vocabulary- building games on the computer.

Universal Reading Time

Do not restrict reading to the confines of your room. Utilize the abundance of words floating all around us. Point out the words on the hoardings on the way.  Ask the child to read out the credits on the cinema poster. Telling the headlines from the newspaper is a very good way to learn. While you are waiting for the doctor to arrive, they can read up the pamphlets.  At the restaurant, let them read the menu and decide on the order. Ask them to decipher the instructions on the new game.

Do not push

 Try all this in a very casual manner. If the child gets feeling that she is being pushed towards reading, she will stall like an adamant horse. It should all seem like a wildly interesting game. Remember Tom Sawyer!  Say for instance, while waiting for the doctor, don’t push the pamphlet in the kids hand and order her too read. Instead, say very, very casually (a bored voice is a must), “There are four words starting with ch in this pamphlet.” Immediately the child will try to find out the fact for herself and find a few more words to boot.

These techniques are just general aids to help the children read more. As a parent you have to show enthusiasm towards their new activity. Correct them gently, when wrong. Show enthusiasm and appreciation when the child wants to read. It is a good idea to buy books as gifts and incentive. Discuss the book the child has just read. Talk about her favorite character in the book. If there is a movie made on the particular book, make it a point to take her to it.

Don’t force, guide. As soon as the child learns that she HAS to read, it becomes another subject to study, a tiresome chore. Reading should be introduced as a delightful pastime and not rigorous punishment.

So, go ahead, introduce your kids to the written word and they will never be lonely again.


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Sia Mitra is a freelance writer and blogger with more than a decade of experience. She has written for most major publications like Femina, Prevention, Complete Well-being, Child, Mother & Baby, Parent & Child, Womens Era, etc.

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