Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Reading aloud is an investment in your child’s future. Empowering children by inculcating this wonderful and most powerful habit in them is the best possible gift parents can give to their children. However, this noble wish and intention cannot be realized without parental support and awareness. The way children need the support of parents in the initial growing up years to eat, sleep, walk, and talk, they also need their support to become readers. Orville Prescott in his book 'A Father Reads to His Children' wrote, "Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way." In order to hook them to this magical world of books, it is important that parents spare few minutes every day and read aloud to their children.
However, the simple-sounding tasks begin to seem daunting to many parents as they start reading aloud to their children. They feel overwhelmed and seek help and clarity on all their concerns with regards to the same. Here are some powerful and effective solutions to all the basic concerns/queries of parents –
1) What is the right age to start reading aloud to children? – When it comes to reading aloud to children, there is no right age and time to introduce your children to the magical world of books. Books not only serve as a wonderful medium to satisfy the inborn curiosity of an infant and a toddler but also have the power to ignite the inherent potential and build their imagination at any age. Parents can introduce age-appropriate books to their children based on their interests and hobbies. There are handy, colorful, and brightly illustrated board books available in the market for children as young as 6-8 months old. Board books can be later replaced with short picture books to toddlers who may start connecting to the characters in the story. In such cases, introducing few titles of a picture book series will help in growing your toddler's fondness for books. If the child likes the first few titles of a books series, more titles of the same series can be later introduced. Their transition from picture books to chapter books or short novels also is quite easy as there are a plethora of book options to choose from to hook your child for life.
2) What if I missed reading aloud to my children in the initial months or years? As mentioned, there is no right age to introduce your children to this magical world of books. Parents can look for age-appropriate books that are easily available at bookstores and can be searched online that display all the necessary details about the book including its summary, what age group the book is targeted or appropriate for, reviews of readers, and a list of books with a similar storyline or message. There are books on different categories like fantasy, fiction, horror, adventures, mystery, non-fiction, etc available that caters to the interest of young readers, primary graders and middle-aged children who missed getting hooked to this mystical world of stories at an early age.
3) What are the other ways to encourage middle-aged children to read? Allowing young and middle-aged children to choose and buy books of their interest would encourage them to read the books they picked and found interesting. It will also give them a sense of empowerment to choose and buy books of their choice and feel trusted. Parents can also encourage young and middle-aged children to write book reviews of their favorite books on respective author website or online portals and share their views. A reply from their favorite author will further motivate them to read more titles published by the same author. They can be also encouraged to make book clubs with their school or colony friends where each kid shares his/her review of the book read which can motivate other kids to read the same. You will be surprised with the creative ideas kids will come up with for their book club. Being in the company of readers will have a positive influence on kids and further encourage them to be receptive to more authors and genre in reading books.
4) What if the child is not interested in reading books? James Patterson rightly said, “There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.” All we need to do is help children find the right book. There are plenty of books that can appeal to a child and turn him/her into a reader. It is all about our efforts as parents to continue introducing children to new authors, book series or genre that can appeal to their age and interest. There are timeless classics, silly & funny stories, spooky stories, mystery stories, thrilling and adventurous stories, fairy tales, folk tales and much more that can hook your child to read.
5) Can children read stories from an app? There is no app to replace your lap! As per Emilie Buchwald, "Children are made readers on the lap of their parents." Why not cherish this wonderful time together to foster a bond for life?" Considering the results of various studies, it is advisable to keep children away from the long term harmful effects of gadget screens. The joy and pleasure that children get from their parents reading to them cannot be replaced by a gadget. However, use and exposure to applications and gadgets are purely at parental discretion. Using them occasionally may not be a matter of worry.
6) Will my child sit through the story? It will always be an advantage to introduce books to children at an early age. Children who have been introduced to books at an early age naturally develop the attention span and interest to sit and listen to the story read aloud to them. However, for parents who could not introduce books to their children at an early age can look for captivating and brightly illustrated books to hook children to read. Look for book titles and book series of award-winning authors who have written books on the subject or area of interest your child possess. Let them choose books on their own. Remember, not to judge your child’s choice of books. You may find their choice of books silly but it is these silly books that will hook your child to read. Maya Angelou has rightly said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” After all, we humans do things only in which we find pleasure. Chances of your child sitting through the entire story for the book chosen by him/her are any day higher compared to the one chosen by you. Then why impose our choice on them? By letting them choose and buy books of their choice you are also trusting their choice and helping them develop decision-making skills too!
7) How do I search good books for reading aloud to my children? Parents can look for award winning books that have a universal appeal in attracting children across the geographical boundaries to read and enjoy the same. Based on your child’s interest, search for age relevant books online, read reviews of readers before buying and introducing a book or book series to your child. You will be surprised to see the plethora of options available to choose from. You can also pay regular visit to nearby books stores and literature festivals happening in town that will have a variety of books you and your children can choose from.
8) Books are too expensive! – It is important to know that bookstores are not the only option to buy books. There are a number of ways and options through which one can buy books at an affordable rate. One can avail the amazing offers and discounts online portals announce on special days and occasions to buy books. Money spent on monthly library membership can be used to buy and own the books you like. Look out for those book sale announcements by special vendors where books of well-known authors, classics, and popular book series are sold at a dirt cheap price. Hence, there are a number of ways to buy and own books through multiple channels at an affordable price. In the end, I would like to share a quote by Austin Phelps that says, “Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” Initial investment made to inculcate the love for reading and awakening the inherent imagination and potential of your child will yield results in the later years.
9) A handbook for parents - Lastly, I would like to recommend my all time favorite and the most treasured book on reading aloud - "The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. This book serves as an enduring guide to parents and shows how to begin reading aloud and which books to choose for reading aloud to children. It also states the benefits of reading aloud to your children and offers a huge treasury of 1,000 books that parents can buy for their children at different stages depending on their interest and choice.
So, keep reading and keep sharing the love for books, for there is no better way to form wonderful and loving childhood memories and reminiscing amazing time spent in the company of amazing authors and their imaginary creations!