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Let's face it. We all want our children to take an interest in reading as much as they do in play, but how many of us actually encourage children to read for pleasure? The answer is, very few. We all want our children to read a lot of books to score good marks, prepare for competitive exams, or simply appear well-read. “I want my kid to improve his vocabulary,” says a parent when asked why she encourages her child to read books. “Why do you read books?” – this to the kid. Prompt comes the reply, “Because I love it!” This boy has got it right!

Some kids can read by the age of four, but it is around six or seven that most kids get the hang of it. It makes sense and would do a lot of good to give children age-appropriate books so that it doesn’t get too overwhelming for them. What happens when you give a very young child food that is actually suitable only for an adult? The result is vomiting, stomach ache and a deep-rooted disgust for that food forevermore. The same thing happens with books. Giving younger children books that are suitable only for older kids or adults can result in a deep-rooted dislike for not just that particular book, but for reading in general. Disastrous, is it not?

Introduce children to the world of books
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Certainly, reading improves vocab, it helps one score better in exams and helps develop sound language not to mention improve one’s written communication as well, but these are the by-products of reading a lot of books. The main reason should be for the mere love of reading. For one, reading books gives children a friend for life. A fine habit to fall back on during their leisure time. It’s one of the best hobbies to engage your kids in. Kids who read a lot naturally become more creative, speak and write fluently and are well-rounded about a lot of things happening around them. This is setting them up for success later in life. It would be hard to come across any successful person who said that he didn’t read much. 

Books are one of the key cornerstones to a child’s language development. Reading books routinely make kids “literacy smart”. Their comprehension improves tremendously. They develop more confidence in their writing as well. Instead of faltering during a speech or presentation or not knowing how to proceed in a written assignment, words will flow automatically and almost effortlessly.

Did you know that reading can actually help kids be better at numbers? Surprising isn’t it? But it is true. ‘The Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading’ research from the University of London’s Institute of Education (IOE) has found children between the ages of 10-16 who read for pleasure, make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling, grammar and maths than children who rarely read.

Parents can facilitate the reading habit for kids from a young age by reading to them every night.

Good readers become great thinkers without a doubt. Over time, instead of just reading the mere words, they will come to look at the underlying meaning the author seeks to convey through his words and develop deeper levels of comprehension. This extends to other areas as well, becoming critical thinkers, decision-makers and problem solvers. They will have more confidence in tackling complex issues in other fields as well because of their ability to look at things holistically and from different perspectives.

Reading can open new windows to things all over the world. Children get exposed to events, objects, people and places all around the world through the pages of a book. It indeed is a magic portal to the entire universe. Many legends, historical figures and heroes have left behind biographies. These carry rich accounts of the people’s life experiences in various fields. It can be about historical figures that made a significant impact on society or events that changed the direction of society. Can there be anything more inspiring than reading such a tale? It will be like a mentor guiding a reader through the walks of life.

“Bedtime stories are something children will love. Make the story interesting for him through your tone, sign language rather than just droning on endlessly seemingly without interest. ”

Bed time stories are a great bonding activity and children who are read to, not only derive happiness, but they are also motivated to read independently later on. Parents can also give older children books when the child has achieved something, say good grades or for chores well done through the month. Children are more likely to read books when they see it as a fun activity and see their parents actively engage in the same. So set up a library at home, and make reading a family thing. Once reading habits are set, he will come to know his taste in books. Let their imaginations soar through the magical world of books.

Books help develop a sense of belonging in children. There are so many different people around the world, from all walks of life, undergoing different life experiences. Each person looks at the world through his own lens and so develops his own perspective towards life in general. This opens up the child’s world and he would be able to draw comparisons between his life and that of many others. Sometimes, we feel that we are the only one who has gone through a particular experience or an emotion or that no one else would have had this thought. The more we read, the more we realize others have gone through what we have before and will again in the future. It helps develop a deeper understanding of life and the world around us.

Books also improve the cognitive functioning of children. It is fuel for their imagination and takes them on a journey of discovery. The connection with place, people and context enrich their cognitive development enabling them to become more knowledgeable and creative in the process. It also helps to reduce stress and improve the child's well-being. The fresh, toxic aroma of the pages of a new book as they flip it over, the way the author’s words resonate and speak with them and the feeling of finishing a book are things that children will treasure and stay with them for years to come. What an invaluable gift a book can be! It installs into a quest for life-long learning and discovery.

So, what was the last book you and your kid read together? Let us know in the comments section.


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