"My child does not read. She watches TV all day. She is not interested in books".
Replace food where you see read or books. So do parents then stop trying to keep their children nourished? They will keep trying out different things, trying new recipes to understand and keep little tummies filled. A diet of reading is just as important. An inadequate intellectual diet can keep minds under-nourished and rob them of vital insights as they grow, learn and make sense of the world they are in.
Children like books. They sometimes turn away from them because they can’t read well enough. This is a great time to sit and read to them. Even as we read to them the thirtieth time, there are new lessons to be learned and new concepts to be reinforced.
My then five- year- old loved the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I had been reading it to her from when she was three. We go through the journey of our favourite caterpillar from egg to colourful butterfly. The words and pictures have stayed the same, but our conversations have not. Initially, she loved the pictures, especially the ones of the cakes and strawberries. We slowly moved on to understanding the days of the week. We graduated to questions about the different stages of the butterfly’s life.
One day at the park, she stood transfixed looking and observing a beautiful green butterfly. “I saw its beak”, she said combining what she’s learning about birds and butterflies all at once. I know for sure, though, her love and interest on this beautiful insect stemmed from her book.
All children like to read. Some like reading about princesses, others about lions and some about cars. If a child refuses to read a book about a cat does not mean he does not like books but perhaps he prefers one about dogs or trucks. It is important to introduce variety into the reading diet of the child.
A reading parent is most likely to have a reading child. Puritans may argue that a child must read a book. It’s alright if a child enjoys reading with an e-reader. Reading is the only important thing.
Many a happy adventure has been undertaken and many quiet moments are spent quietly poring over a good book by most of us since childhood. It is a wonderful legacy that gets carried forward when we take the time to introduce a child or an adult to the magic of reading. Why some people discover books thanks to their children.
Once you hook a child to reading, a task lot tougher than hooking them to watching television you will rarely hear the famous ‘I’m bored’, if there are books to be read.
Children are naturally curious. If we take the time to read and understand words together we are forging bonds with children as two learners rather than as an adult and a child.
I confess I love reading and seeing the beautiful illustrations in children’s books as much as my children. Post a good book, we are all calmer and more receptive to each other.
Reading a book takes effort but in a fun way. I get to see and help my children over words that they stumble over. Sometimes I am stumped and we take a dictionary to search for words together. While we are at it, we find new unrelated words that are little stories in themselves. Aye aye was one such animal we learnt about and we wondered why they were named so? Did they look like sailors or speak like them? Turns out they were considered an ill-omen by local natives and to avoid referring to them directly they were called the he-he and later aye-aye.
Ruskin Bond is the author of several children's books and listen to him as he speaks about how chidren can be encouraged to read.
The more children know the less they are afraid. They seek and assimilate and in this way they learn to understand things around them.
Finally, it would be wise to remember some cardinal rights of the reader.