“A child reads for knowledge and facts. A child reads for escape and comfort. A child reads for pleasure.”
Today we live in the future we envisioned as children.
We have large screens in our living rooms that play videos on our command. We have a small handy device in our palms that gives us any information that we need, within seconds. We have technology that makes video games more realistic than ever before. We have devices that respond to our voice commands. While we don’t have flying cars yet, the Jettison’s future is here.
With all these digital distractions occupying every second of our day, how do we get our children to fall in love with the good ol’ magic of reading? The idle sunny days of curling up with a book and a plate of homemade snacks, as we began to lose ourselves in enchanted tales, and thanks to devices these wonderful experiences may forever be lost for our children.
With so many digital distractions, how do we get our children to give up the handphone or tablet and pick up a book?
The benefits of reading – especially for young children, cannot be stressed enough. It helps them develop their focus and concentration, attain knowledge and develop the ability to communicate effectively – both in written and verbal forms.
If we can inspire the habit of reading at a young age, we can empower a child with a valuable skill that lasts for life. So, how do we make our child fall in love with reading? How do we not lose the war of Books Vs. Screens in the digitally rich world of today?
- To Raise a Reader, we need to be a Reader
If we’ve let reading take a backseat in your life, then the chances are that our child may not be interested in reading.
“Children don’t do what we preach. Instead, they follow what we do.”
Let’s make the space and time for books to be a part of our lives. Besides reading with our child, we should be reading books on our own. The more our child sees us with a book, the more he/she is likely to pick up a book.
For children, their parents are the biggest role models. Read in front of them to send a subtle yet strong message that reading is worth the time. At times children are reluctant to read because of the association with (usually uninteresting) homework and assignments. Children need to see their parents reading in order to create a genuine interest and not to feel they are reading out of a sense of obligation.
2. Books Vs. Screen Time – It’s Not War!
In the digital age we live in, it is not possible to completely eliminate or ban screens from our child’s daily life. Instead of being tech-banning moms or dads, we need to evolve as tech-enabling and balancing parents.
We don’t have to pick a side in the war between books and screens.
While technology has its downsides, it has plenty of benefits. Parents can arrive at a negotiated balance between screen time and book time. Devices can also enable learning. There are plenty of learning apps and yes, even games that can enable learning.
Instead of banning screens altogether, we can convert screen time into an enriching learning experience. A Device can be at worst an addictive tool and at best a tool to develop focus, hand-eye coordination and transmit knowledge.
Today we can even read a book with graphics on the iPad or Kindle or listen to an audiobook. We can mix it up and provide our child with plenty of choices so that he/she can pick whatever interests him/her best.
3. Technology as an enabler
Today even toddlers and preschoolers (Pre Nursery School and Nursery Schools) – can watch read-along videos on YouTube or other child-friendly apps. YouTube Kids has an enormous library of read-along videos. We can even find videos with pages from actual books. It’s an excellent alternative for hyperactive children, who sometimes may find it challenging to settle down with a book.
There are a plethora of child-friendly apps on both iOS and Android. Phonics, sing-along-classic – these apps help children get hooked onto reading, in a fun and interactive way.
4. Let the child pick the book
Take the child to the local bookstore or to the school library and encourage the child to pick a book of interest. Nothing like personal choice in sparking interest.
Libraries are great ways to help children fall in love with reading. We can introduce the child to a local library and encourage the child to borrow a book of choice. It’s okay if the book is before or beyond the child’s level. We don’t want to force the child to read a book that we think might be interesting.
Be a Tech-Wise Parent
Reading plays an essential role in raising an intelligent, confident, and empathetic child. Reading to children develops their listening and cognitive skills and sparks their love for reading. Instead of eliminating technology (next to impossible in today’s world), let’s try to make the best use of technology. I do hope these tips work to get your child interested in reading, as they have worked for my children.