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On an estimate, around 10 million American students make it to the final year of high school without fostering the basic reading skills. This does not only keep them away from a good hobby, it also keeps them away from potential knowledge and skill development, and it might also affect their academics. However, all is not lost. Through some special books and more involvement of parents, it is possible to increase the habit of reading among children.
Reading is something that cannot only help people in an educational way; it can also help them groom their personality. It teaches people about things that are essentially not taught in schools, which is why most educationists and teachers always try enforcing the habit of reading among children. However, this has not really seen too much of a success. Around 20- 40% of school children cannot read fast enough, well enough or comfortable enough.
In such a situation, when one is trying to enforce the habit of reading among children, parents and teachers have to deal with two layers of challenges:
1. Making reading interesting for the children.
2. Getting them over their fear of reading or improving the way they currently read.
So, how can this be done? Here are a few tips using which the reading habits in children can be increased.
1. Parents should read with children: Everything a child learns starts at home, with the family. Unless and until there is some parental involvement, children are not going to develop any habits. When it comes to inculcating reading habits in children, the first thing that parents would have to do is to enforce it upon them. They should make it a point to sit down and read with the children. 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.
2. Make reading material easily available: If you want to make your children read more, you have to make sure that they have something to read. Chances are higher that children who are surrounded by books would be more inclined to pick them up and read them. Of course, the books that you surround the children with should be related to their age as well. Make sure that the books that you have gotten for your children would be attractive and appealing to them and not something too tough for their reading level. Put some books in the living room, family room, the child’s bedroom etc.
3. Have reading activities planned: Children usually do not read because they don’t think it is fun or cool. So, as a parent or a teacher, you can come up with some activities to get the children reading. You could have some interactive reading sessions planned out, or you could make the children draw what they have read once they have read it. You can pretty much do any activity to get your children reading, as long as you are sure that your child would like it.
4. Start small: We did talk about how you need to provide the children with a lot of reading material if you want to make children interested in reading. But you can’t really make them start reading books right from the bat, which means that the watch word should now be starting small and easy. Kids will not be interested to develop a reading habit if they are intimidated by it, so start off with something small.
When you are watching TV, make them read out the various things that come on the screen. When you are at a restaurant, make them read the menu and tell you what they want. Small things like these might not make your children become engrossed in books within days, but slowly, it will make them more confident. And confidence is what wins the day when the reading habit of children is to be cultivated.
5. Take your children to the bookstore: You know how children always have an inclination to want something that they are surrounded by? You walk past a toy store; they will certainly demand something that is on the shelf. You can apply the same tactic for books as well. If you expose your children to bookstores and libraries, they will certainly be inclined to take a look at them and even develop an interest in them! They will even start asking for new reading material soon enough and boom, you have learnt how to make children read.
6. Take your child to the library: The library is a wonderful place to cultivate reading habits in children. There are so many books there that some are bound to catch your child’s attention. Most libraries have free membership and even if you have to pay, it is barely legible fee! This way, you can get your child into the habit of reading and loving it, without really spending too much.
Another plus is the fact that there are a lot of libraries that hold reading programs for children. This way, they won’t just realize that reading is fun and knowledgeable; they might also meet other kids who also like reading. Children don’t really like doing things on their own, so having company would definitely help to make children read.
7. Acknowledge the child’s progress and success: Praise and prizes can go a long way in cultivating a habit. So, when you are encouraging reading habits in children, you should also appreciate it when they do complete reading a book. Reward them something they really like and they will certainly be motivated to read more. As they grow up, they will stop needing this extra motivation or the extra prize, because by now, they will already be used to reading so much.
8. As a teacher, assign reading problems: One of the biggest causes that contribute towards the lack of reading awareness among children is the fact that when they are in school, they are never really involved in any reading activities. Reading activities are related to studies as well and one of the best ways to encourage children to develop a reading habit is to make sure that they would be awarded academically by the same.
9. Make use of technology: There was a point of time when you would have had to use only books to encourage children to read. Most books were not really aimed at children as well, which would prove to be quite a headache for parents and teachers who were trying to make children read. However, there are plenty many options for parents now. Reading can be encouraged, not only through books but also through visual aids, audio books, book DVDs etc. Using media and technology the right way could definitely help develop a reading habit.
10. Make reading an example: Children always learn from what the adults around them are doing. So, if you want to know how to make children read, you should keep in mind that you do the same. Unless and until you read, your children might not be that motivated to read themselves. We know that you might not have done the same when you were a child, but all you have to do is pick up a book and sit with your child when they are reading. You could either spend some quality time with your child, reading the same thing that you are reading too. Or you could just give your child the books they want to read and read something that you want to read.
How to make children read more effectively ?
The tips above are applicable to parents and there are a lot of them that apply to teachers as well. The whole point is that when a child has to develop the ability to read and enjoy the same, it has to be a combined effort of the parent and the teachers.
Children spend a lot of time at home and they also spend a lot of time at school as well. They have to develop habits in both these places so that they can have a more well- rounded development of the habit. While parents can help in initiating the habit among children, it is teachers who can hone it. After a point of time, the children must be taught how to apply their reading habits. They need to know how to apply the things that they learn from reading and they also need to learn how to interpret the world around them in the same terms.
It is essential to develop a reading habit because it provides children with a huge advantage and a benefit. They will not just be able to read, they will have an advantage over most other children when it comes to IQ tests or competitive exams and they will certainly be better world citizens.
One should also keep in mind that it is necessary for parents to realize that each child is different and the amount they can read and the kind of books they can read will vary. If you see any signs of reading disability displayed by the child, it would be best to contact a specialist.