Children are made readers on the laps of their parents said Emilie Buchwald.
One of the best gifts parents could ever give their child is the love for reading. So how does one inculcate this fondness for books in their little ones? When the child is a toddler, the parent reads aloud to them - the incredible rhythmic beat of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. And John Archambault continues to mesmerize toddlers even today, more than 2 decades after it was first published.
'A told B and B told C, I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.
Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room?'
This rhyme has such a powerful musical rhythm to it that it inexorably pulls the child into its world where the alphabets go climbing up the coconut tree. On repeat readings, the child starts joining in as the parent reads, especially the catchphrase 'Chicka chicka boom boom is there enough room?' What could be a more fun way to learn the alphabet?
Once the little ones learn some basic reading, they should be encouraged to read aloud to the parent. This becomes a role reversal of sorts. The child gets a feeling of power, their confidence increases, and bonding between parent and child takes place over a beloved story. At this stage it is a good idea to invest in books that kids would likely read over and over again. Familiarity with the story, characters, and words will hasten the process of learning to read on their own. Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham is an all-time favorite for early readers.
'Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?' reads a verse from the popular book. Note the repetition and the simple, short, and easy-to-read words and one realizes why this is a preferred early-reading book.
Picture books are a good place to start for beginners. The child is drawn into the story with beautiful illustrations and feels proud as the words they read happen to support the pictures accompanying them. The Berenstain Bears, Franklin, and The Little Critter are few of the picture book series which will entice the child into their world and make them look forward to the next book.
When children get comfortable reading on their own, a 'silent reading time' needs to be set for them. Encourage the child to keep a dictionary handy to check out those unfamiliar words. Each night, about 30 minutes before bedtime, tuck the child into bed with a book and watch them take their beloved characters to dreamland with them as they fall asleep reading. On weekends as a special treat, the parents could let the children get into bed with them to have a 'family reading time' before packing them off to their own rooms.
Once children develop a love for reading, they get hooked on to books for life. Reading opens new worlds, answers questions, and enhances the power of imagination. It increases knowledge and builds vocabulary, thereby creating confidence for invaluable communication skills in later years.
A. C. Grayling has beautifully captured the power of reading in just one sentence,
To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.