If your child doesn’t read, he will grow up with a disadvantage compared to children who do read. So follow these simple three ways to make a reader out of him and he’ll bless you for each time he picks up a book! …. so here goes!
1. Make sure she has books to explore from day one.
She needs to see books as part and parcel of her daily life. And for that to happen, you have to have books lying around for her to explore from the time she’s one and two years old. There is no other way. Books have to be there, all around her. And it helps if you love them too! But still all is not lost if you’re not a reader – as long as you introduce her to the magic that books are filled with.
2. Do read out to him every single day!
Mummies, don’t bother if you miss dusting that shelf. Let the TV stay switched off. And every now and then, try Maggi or pasta for dinner, instead of a proper meal. Turn at least one night a week into a ‘Reading Night’ where you grab a sandwich and then get down to reading stories to him for at least an hour. Children of all ages LOVE a good story. So read out to them whether they’re two or twelve!
3. Practise your ‘drama’ skills on them!
Children love theatre and action. So give it to them. ‘Become’ the dragon, a gruff voice. ‘Become’ the witch, try a thin and reedy cackle! Try adding ‘bow-wow’ effects wherever there’s a dog. Add ‘meh-meh’ for goats. When you sing ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ for them, make the farm animal noises come alive! I can promise you you’ll have such fun. Encourage them to contribute the special effects. Reading and books need to be seen as fun time and magical moments spent with Mom and Dad. Remember, you’re creating memories for all time to come.
MORE STUFF TO HELP YOU ALONG!
Here are 6 great read-aloud author suggestions for your precious ones! These are authors that have the proven enchanted touch, creating distinctive worlds filled with whimsy and character. Marvellously individualistic denizens make for much oohs and aahs as you read out loud from this gifted bunch of storytellers. We think you’ll have a whale of a good time too!
1. Richard Scarry (1 year to 8-9 years): One of our fave authors – his beautifully illustrated books with animal characters such as Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm among a zillion others are fun to read out! Let yourself go as you imitate hen clucks, hippo sounds and hyena growls ! Have fun with your child!
2. Gerald Durrell (8-9 years onwards): An author from an earlier era, Durrell was an Irishman with the gift of blarney. A zoologist by profession he spun out a book each time he needed to fund an expedition. The stories are all true, based on his nomadic childhood with a madcap and eccentric family. Wonderful stuff!
3. Enid Blyton (2 years – 12 years onwards): Who hasn’t heard of this spinner of stories of elves, pixies and goblins? Her toys come alive at night and have tea parties – a quaint Brit concept which we Indians have quite taken to heart. Her detective series with Fatty and his Findouters, the Secret Seven and the Adventurous Five are a favourite with Indian children.
4. Arthur Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes series – 8-9 years onwards): The most enthralling stories filled with crime and despicable villains that feature hounds with glowing jaws, travelling Mormons in the Salt Lake Desert and a midnight rendezvous with a venomous adder. Few know that Sherlock Holmes was actually modelled after Conan Doyle’s college professor – Dr Joseph Bell.
5. J.K. Rowling (7-12 onwards): Magic saw a new revival with Rowling’s mesmerising world of witches, wizards and Muggles! Ah! What wouldn’t ‘normal’ children give to be able to use Mischief Maps and Invisibility cloaks. Maybe they’d even trade in their cricket bats and footballs to play Quidditch on brooms – enchanted ones, of course!
6. Roald Dahl (6-8 years onwards): No one quite presents the most delightfully wicked characters as successfully as Dahl does – horrible witches, evil school principals and crafty, child-guzzling crocodiles, the terrible Twits and so many other monstrous villains! In one word – exciting! Plus his collection of short stories are dark enough to fascinate your teenager, too.
A last tip: With older kids, read out the more difficult books – the ones that you want them to read but are afraid they may not pick up on their own. I tried snatches of Tolkien on my children, bits from Gerald Durrell, PG Wodehouse and Jack London. Also, occasionally, Shakespeare, Shelly and Yeats, as I love poetry too. These are all authors who use language so beautifully.
A last gift: Listen to why TED speaker Lisa Bu recommends we all should read books….!