27th Feb, 2014
9.00 P.M.

I am Ook,
Ook the Book!
Do you see me in my nook?
Will you stop and take a look?

The above is neither an attention grabbing header nor me turning poet! It’s just one of those funny rhymes (this one is by Lisa Rovetech) used to initiate children into the wonderland of rhyming. However, it definitely made me stop and think whether there are or will there be any nooks and corners left anywhere in the world where we will actually see books, hold them and feel them in the future?

That reading is a dying habit, we all agree and of course we really want to revive it but do we want to do so enough? Agreed e-books might do something to redeem the situation, however, it surely cannot match the pleasure a paper book gives us.

Anyway since my concern is children and their reading skills, let us see why do we want our children to learn how to read?
1.       The first reason is of course the obvious one   :   
  1.     As a means of communication- For academic and other purposes.
  2.       The second one is to channeli ze them towards becoming thinking individuals.
  3.  3. The ultimate one-To learn to read for pleasure. 

When we talk about children and reading, we can say that there are children who:
 ·  Can read but don’t
·         Find it difficult to read- characterized by- difficulty with learning to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal intelligence
·         Read but don’t comprehend(those, who cannot do so because of insufficient  exposure to the language being read)
While reading difficulties (Point no 2 above), need to be dealt with by specialists in that field, let’s talk about the other two.

Why some children don’t like reading?

Straight from the horse’s mouth! – Kids say…

·         It’s  boring!- Discuss with the school if required and give the child something interesting to read e.g.: comics( maybe related  to a movie/funny  stories etc.)

·         I don’t have time!-Same might be the case with the adults in the family. So make time for reading. Set aside family reading time every day maybe twenty minutes before dinner time or before bed time. Be a good reading example yourself-Read a book or a magazine along with your child.

  • ·         It’s too hard!-Give the child books as per his/her reading level and not age level. Let her taste success.

  • ·         It is not important!-Children sometimes feel reading some particular text is not important (some parents might be always insisting that the child read only general knowledge/science/other content important not from child’s view point e.g. some children find reading the latest on electronic gadgets, some might like sports  ).Find books that matter to them.

  • ·         It is not a fun activity!-Those children who find it difficult to read feel anxious at the very prospect of it. Don’t make reading a chore. Take the pressure off it. Give it as a reward.

Avoid at all costs:

·         Nagging –Constant lecturing about the values of reading can have a reverse effect making the child avoid reading altogether.
·         Bribing- There is no harm in rewarding a child for finishing reading a book but don’t make a habit of it by rewarding every book read. In time the child will surely learn to value reading.
·         Judging your child’s performance-Separate school performance from reading for pleasure.
·         Criticising your child’s choice of reading-Hide your disappointment if your child chooses a book of lower than expected standard. Reading anything is better than reading nothing. Respect her taste.
·         Setting unrealistic goals- Be satisfied with small successes. Motivate.
·         Making reading a big deal-Be casual and matter of fact about it.

From reluctance to enthusiasm! Hold your child’s hand through the process.
Some things you can do to encourage reading.

  • ·         Use your child’s interests as a starting point for selecting reading content for your child.
  • ·         Read aloud to your child as listening to interesting things without struggling to read may rekindle her interest in reading.
  • ·         Encourage your child to read aloud .Don’t stop her at every left out word .Let her draw pleasure from the task.
  • ·         On gift giving occasions, gift books. Make them sound special.
  • ·         Introduce the book mark. Don’t insist on finishing a book if the child does not like it.
  • ·         Treat your child to excellent quality books portraying humour. Let them recognise the wit of words through such books. Books portraying cartoons are great for the purpose.
  • ·         If you want to make your child really love reading good magazines/other current material, the best way is to have the magazines  casually lying around the house (make sure there is no useless reading material to distract) in strategic places where the child and the family are likely to sit.
  • ·         Center your talk on interesting things you came across in the magazines/papers without actually telling the child to read them. Ensure a steady supply of good current magazines and be a good example by actually reading them. Avoid phrases like- this is 'papa's magazine don't spoil it. Rather, adults should always handle magazines /books with care, hence showing children by example that magazines are meant to be taken care of.
  • ·         Take your child regularly to a public library if possible.
  • ·         Make a library at home. It is not necessary to have an entire room for the library. Even a shelf will do. Your taking care of it, classifying books into categories will be a lesson in itself for the child.
  • ·         Not all reading takes place in books-What about road-side boards, food menus and reading related games.e.g.-scrabble.

Books/works like - Amul's India: Based on 50 Years of Amul Advertising;

 R K Laxman’s common man can also help in capturing a child’s interest.

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