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How to make Reading Interesting for a Child
It is generally seen that parents are not too happy about their children's preference of watching television over reading a good book. A child cannot be forced to sit and read whenever a parent feels like. Most of us have high expectations for our children. Parents have to affirm a pivotal role in their children’s education. The parents are a child’s first teacher. They should help the child to develop pleasant and positive attitude towards reading. This should be done before child could develop habits of reading and love for books. A child looks up onto the parents and naturally tries to copy everything what he sees. If a child sees his parents with a book everyday at some time or the other, it will naturally arouse the curiosity of the child. At an early age, parents should try reading out to the children in order to get their children reading on their own. This practice at an early age, can build comprehension of words, increase their vocabulary and make the children more confident about picking up a book themselves. Reading is a very important issue which is not only about enjoyment but a necessity; the basic tool of education (Makotsi, 2005). Reading makes way for a better understanding of one’s own experiences and it can be an exciting voyage to self discovery (Panigrahi and Panda, 1996; Eyre, 2005). However, we must not despair if our child finds reading to be boring and no fun. Children are very busy- school, homework, sport, friends, television, chores- all compete for their time. They may need rescheduling to find time to read. Some children may find it hard to read and understand what they read. For them it may be a slow, difficult and arduous process. For this the best thing would be is for the parents to consult the child’s reading teacher to find interesting books and reading materials written at their level to match their understanding. Through some relevant books and more involvement of the parents, it is possible to increase the reading habits in some children. It is to be kept in mind that all children are not same. Some develop the habit of reading at an earlier age and some do not show any interest towards reading at all. If there is a difference in the learning patterns amongst children, most parents are filled with dread and anxiety. Therefore the pressure inflicted among the children to read and study proves to undermine the child’s confidence. We should avoid lecturing the child about the value of reading. A child can resent to it and it can have an adverse effect on the child. While there is nothing wrong with rewarding a child for his or her reading efforts, we must not make it a practice for the child to expect a prize after finishing every book. However, a few praises from a parent or teacher will not harm the child and will boost up his or her morale.
Children usually do not read because they don’t think it as fun. As a parent or a teacher we can try to make reading to be fun by planning out activities, asking the children to draw out the characters they read in a story, staging puppet shows based on different stories or by asking them to recite a story on their own, which does not really need to be a story they have read or heard, but can be said from their own imagination. Children have got vivid imaginations and if they are allowed to make use of these imaginations they can really turn up good stories according to their capacities. Parents should understand that reading does not have to be confined to books alone. There can be many times in a day that can be termed as reading moments. They can be as simple as reading road signs, menus, hoardings, etc. Another interesting way to entice a child is to create a comfort and cosy atmosphere at home in a couch and settle down with a child to read a book. If a child sees a parent with a book or magazine, it can help the child to connect reading with comfort and cosiness. We can also scout out for the things our children like making their hobbies and interests as base points. It can be fun to the child if we encourage him to read aloud into a recorder and play it back to him or to a younger sibling. A child likes to be given responsibility so when he is asked to read to a person younger to him it sure can spark his interest to read more. Much research has provided insight into the importance of home environments for children’s reading literacy (Adams, Ehri, Holdaway, Verhoeven in Dent and Yannotta,2005). Reading habits need to be built and promoted from an early age. Parents who spend time reading to their children, giving them the best possible start on the road to literacy are setting a good example for their educational attainment. Many researches have also pointed out that children who do best in literacy skills at school are those who come from homes where there are books, where their parents spend time reading to their children and where children see their parents and older siblings engaging in reading activities.
Another interesting way to entice a child to read is to form reading clubs with members of his own age groups - book clubs, reading groups and literature circles. A child is seen to be more open with children of his own age and will relate more with them than that with an adult. The library is a great place to explore books and authors for free. Daniel (2004) observes that the library remains the power house of educational institution and that an education institution without a library is like a motor car without an engine and a body without a soul. Smith (2002) opines that the school library is the backbone of functional education without which academic excellence cannot be achieved. We must make it a point to take our children to visit a library from time to time. The child is exposed to a wide array of colourful books, posters, CDS, magazines which can appeal to them. The trip to the library can be extra special for a child as he gets time to look around and see whatever catches his interest. He will like to read a book which he gets to pick up by himself.
Librarians have a crucial role to play, since they provide the only environment in which most people can access books. “The librarian working in primary schools libraries should endeavour to make the library attractive to the pupils. Create an environment conducive to reading so that the children feel at home and comfortable; Request teachers to encourage the students to read more books, magazines and newspapers regularly; Request parents to subscribe to good newspapers and magazines for their homes matching the tastes of their children, and Request schools to organize debate and essay competitions, story hours, chat shows exhibitions, quiz hours, etc…, at regular intervals so as to generate reading interest and information gathering habit” (Isaac Oluwadare Busayo, 2011). Also, they need to: Attract children who are reluctant readers, expose them to the joys and benefits of reading, encourage the child to pick up a book or two for home reading and stress the importance to return the books by due date. If a child is given the responsibility to do his own work it is seen that he gradually gets the idea that he must do his work on time. It would do the child good if the parent spends a few moments with the child in the library reading room.
Teachers need to appreciate the importance of reading. The teachers are the next set of people children spend most of their time with after their parents. In the light of this fact, they should know the type of books children should enjoy reading. Hence, they need to request appropriate numbers of books for classrooms, and school libraries. Teachers should introduce books to the pupils after giving them a brief introduction about the contents. This will give children the freedom to choose according to their taste. They should inform parents and policy makers the importance of access to books. Teachers need to appreciate the importance of reading. This will afford them the opportunity to motivate and encourage their pupils to read widely. Fluent reading comprehension skills are the basis of quality educational attainment. Reading is one of the best hobbies and a parent or teacher must encourage the child as it improves literacy skills, vocabulary, general knowledge and even writing skills but care must be taken as not to push the child to the limits. This may make them rebel and not do as told or instructed.
It is important and necessary for the parents to know that all children are not same. Some children tend to read books in zeal while some children are not at all interested in reading. Each child is unique in his own self and if a child does not read he or she may have other hidden talents which will showcase in course of time. It is up to the parents and teachers to keep track of the child's progress in various fields. Reading cannot be force upon a child but in due course with encouragement and help, a child can cultivate good reading habits. It is also essential for parents to know that reading is different from studies and should not be imposed on the child. In due course a child can relate to his reading skills and apply this knowledge to interpret the world around them. They will not be just able to read but also have advantage as to take part in informative quizzes and other competitive tests.
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