The reality now is starkly different. Kids today are born into a world surrounded by technology. Gadgets of all shapes and sizes are introduced to them at an early age and in most cases, they often take to them like fish to water. While this bright, confident generation, whom we like to call ‘digital natives’, is naturally wired to all things tech, parents often find themselves dealing with shorter attention spans and a need for high stimulation.
With tons of research illustrating the many benefits it offers for kids ranging from enhanced language proficiency, focus and comprehension, to improved social skills and a more empathetic world-view, reading is no less than an essential life skill. However, in today’s hustle-bustle and busy schedules, this simple yet impactful activity often takes a backseat and parents constantly struggle to get their kids to dive into a book.
If you too find it challenging to get them to pick reading, here’s my take on how to enable your kids to discover their first book and get them started on a lifelong adventure!
Tech is your friend!
Yes, you read that right! Digital natives exist in a world bustling with social media and technology, and embracing digital mediums can be a great way to meet them where they are most comfortable! With all its multi-sensory, interactive resources, technology has the power to make reading an even more stimulating experience for readers and learners across ages.
Interacting with text on devices and reading apps filled with lively visuals, characters and sounds may go a long way in augmenting a child’s reading experience. With audio-books and read-aloud features, parents can introduce early readers to phonics to help correlate sounds with alphabets, enabling them to become more confident readers as they grow.
Digital libraries catering especially to kids offer an incredible choice of reading material for kids to explore their many interests and pick what appeals most to them. Browse-Skim-Discover is an experience that is hard-wired not just in adults but in kids too! By mirroring this experience, these platforms can aid in the discovery of new books, genres and indeed, experiences!
Let them choose
For a child, there is no greater pleasure than being able to choose their favourite things- be it a toy they want to play with, a pair of shoes they want to wear, or simply a snack they want to eat! Picking a book is no different. Some kids like adventures, and some like fantasy. Some lose themselves in the wonders of nature, while others are intrigued by the mysteries of space. Every child is unique and giving them the choice to decide what they want to read is a powerful way to lure them into the world of reading and discover their favourites.
As parents, it pays to keep a keen eye on your child’s interests as they begin their reading journey. If they are interested in a particular genre, look for books that will satisfy their curiosity. Once they begin enjoying what they read and as they build the confidence to read more they will soon come asking for more.
When it comes to reading, little steps go a long way
Create every day reading moments to make it a lasting habit. Let them start small by reading for 10 minutes every day and remember to compliment them for finishing their favourite books. To motivate them, read along. Read with them during snack time or before tucking them in at night. This seemingly small ritual not just creates lasting memories and bonding but also makes reading a comfort activity your children would gladly resort to.
Wish to Raise a Reader? Be One!
I have come across many peers and friends struggling to get their kids to pick their first book. Often, parents try for a while and eventually resort to taking comfort in statements such as ‘He loves sports more’ or ‘She has no time with her studies and other activities’ not realising that there is a critical step to raising readers. It is to be one! Your kids are always watching and learning from you. They are more likely to adopt similar habits especially when they are much younger.
So the next time you pick up that phone to unwind, do so with a book! When they see you making time out of your busy schedule to read, they will see reading as an important part of everyday life. And when they do, make sure to take the time to be involved in their reading journeys.
Happy reading. Happy raising readers!
-The author Rachna Bahadur is the Global General Manager, at Epic from BYJU’S.