“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” Roald Dahl
My own habit for reading was earnestly sparked by the Harry Potter series when I was barely twelve years old. By the time I was in grade 7, I had finished reading the Philosopher’s Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire. I even managed to earn myself an incredibly reduced eyesight since I used to ‘sneak out’ of bed to read at night in poor lighting!
When I became his mom, my love for books was already engraved on my forehead – so the Kid really had no choice but to follow in my footsteps. I started reading to him when he was four years old. I know that for a millennial parent who understands the importance of reading, the Kid was probably a little older, but by this time, he had just started formal ‘big kid’ school, and after completing my studies, I was more settled and committed to seriously assisting his teachers to help him develop a culture (and love) of reading. For a while, the Kid loved Lightning McQueen (the red cartoon sports scar), so we bought many books about Lightning McQueen and other cars.
More than five years later, and we’re still reading. So, every night after 20h45 in my house, the Kid reads to me, before falling asleep almost immediately. I am such a lucky gal!
But how did we get here? Here are simple tips to help you raise an avid reader:
- Reading should be a daily and consistent habit. Since the weekends can be unpredictable, it’s difficult to remain consistent, between visiting friends and family, running errands, and preparing for our weekly Sunday Funday, so we only try to read every weeknight and then relax over the weekend.
- Find a time during the day (or night) when you’re both relaxed. After a long day at work, I always find that I am much more relaxed after dinner, so the Kid and I read just before bedtime, and this has cemented our weekly bedtime routine but it also gives us a chance to bond as well.
- Encourage your child to buy books at school (or at the book store when you purchase your own). The Kid’s school has frequent book sales and what I love about this is that it encourages the Kid to be more involved in deciding the kinds of books and stories he’s interested in. So, take your child the next time you visit a bookstore – you would be amazed at their interest.
- Your daily book choice must be guided by what your child loves – at that moment. If he or she likes cars and Barbie dolls, then try to find books that compliments that interests. Thanks to Religious Education at school, we’re now on to our second bible book!
- Don’t be in a hurry to finish reading so that you miss the chance to ask questions. Besides saying a prayer, I always make it a point to end our reading time with follow-up questions and to patiently listen for the Kid’s answers. Sometimes, this is difficult, but I am finding that this does not only serve as an effective communication tool that lets him know he’s heard, but it also helps to develop his vocabulary tremendously.
- Lastly, it goes without saying that you will have to lead by example! Your child will often mimic your own actions. That is why I make it a point to set aside some reading time for myself as well. After we have completed his reading session, I make myself some tea and read my own books in the evenings. I noticed the Kid has now started to copy this example and you will find him when he has nothing better to do, cuddled up on the couch reading one of his favourite stories. Of course, this makes me immensely proud that he’s developing his own habit of reading that I can only hope he will want to continue to do throughout his lifetime.
I know that I cannot force the Kid to love reading, but merely planting the seeds of the importance of reading at a young age is important and enough for me.
If you’re serious about developing a reading habit for your little one, here is a list of some of the Kid’s books that we have read that you may find useful:
- Super Spies by Disney/Pixar Cars 2;
- Driven to Win! By Disney/Pixar Cars 3;
- Tinga Tales: Why Lion Roars – Read it yourself with Ladybird;
- 365 Good Night Stories;
- My Big Story Bible by Josh Edwards; and
- Flight of the Red Bandit by Geronimo Stilton.
Let us know in your comments below what you think about these books and what you’re currently reading with your little ones – after all, a family who reads together, stays together!