How to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Child

On Tuesday, I was invited to speak at the Popular Bookfest 2017 at the KLCC Convention Center with Michelled Lim-Chua, author of The Mindful Mom, on the topic:

How to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Child

Popular bookfest - Love Reading

These are some of the highlights from our discussion.

Why Reading?

“A nation that does not read much does not know much. And a nation that does not know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect the entire nation… the literate and illiterate.” – Jim Trelease

Why should we encourage children to read and why is it so important to instill that love for reading?

Getting Kids to Love Reading

Encouraging children to read, especially to develop that love for reading, has always been challenging even before technology came along. Now, with so much clamouring for our children’s attention, it seems almost impossible. So what can we do?

  • Set the example – if you want to raise a reader, you need to be a reader because if you’re not reading, why should they? Don’t just read with your children but make sure that they see you enjoy reading as well.
  • Create the environment – you can’t raise a reader if they have nothing to read so make sure you offer them lots of reading material. It doesn’t have to be just books, you can have magazines, newspapers, or comics as well. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as your child wants to read it.
  • Follow their interests – what does your child like? There are books on every topic under the sun. For instance, Minecraft novels are great for reluctant readers who are Minecraft fans.
  • Capture their curiosity – start reading the story together and pause at a cliffhanger. Save the rest of the story for the next reading session. Your children may be so eager to find out what happens next that they will continue reading the rest of the book without you.

Reading vs Technology

Two of my favorite benefits of reading to babies and toddler aged-children is that you build their attention span, something I think has suffered because of fast-paced, fragmented content that is so readily available now – I read somewhere that we are actually raising the most distracted generation in history, and I believe books have the ability to nurture attention to detail and narrative, in ways that digital learning just can’t do. – Michelle Lim-Chua

Since technology is in our lives, let’s be smart about how we use it.

  • Read-along stories and interactive storybook apps are great for encouraging reluctant readers. 
  • Audio stories are useful for increasing your “read aloud” story time with your children even when you don’t have time to read to them. Just make sure you reserve some reading time together as a parent-child bonding session to reinforce the value of reading.

Related:

Bibliotherapy

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” – John Green, YA Author

Love Reading - BibliotherapyWhat is Bibliotherapy?

  • Helping through the use of books.
  • A process that leads an individual towards good health through the medium of literature.
  • Using books to help children think about, understand, and work through social and emotional concerns.

How can we use it?

  • Stories can help us talk about difficult topics we find difficult to discuss with our children, for instance, religion, racism, and death. Books can help young children understand abstract concepts, such as death, which can be difficult for young children to grasp.
  • Bibliotherapy can be useful for helping children deal with difficult emotions and experiences, for instance, bullying, puberty, discrimination.

Related:

Creativity

“The books we read spark our imagination, turn on our creativity, and get us thinking in a deeper way than ordinary.” – Jody Hedlund, Author

Creativity is the most important we have and it is one that our children will need to be successful in life. As Ken Robinson says – children are born creative, the question is how we keep them that way. Stories are one way of keeping that creative flame alive.

  • Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it is comes from the ideas we are exposed to. Books provide that access to an unlimited imagination – the more we read, the more ideas we have.
  • Books spur the imagination as we convert the words we read on a page into the images we see in our heads. Reading is an exercise of the imagination.

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Character Building

love reading - character building“Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills to be alone. It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we’ve never met, living lives we couldn’t possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character’s skin.” – Ann Patchett, Author.

If we want children to embody the virtues that we believe in, we need to teach them. One way to do that is to use stories because they can help us start that conversation about important topics our children need to be aware of, such as racism and embracing diversity.

  • Books can teach children empathy. It allows them to step into the character’s shoes and experience what it is like to live a day as another person. This is especially powerful with books in the first person that tell the story from the “I” perspective.
  • Stories often share the thoughts of different characters that can help children to see how differently other people think. It helps them to see things from another person’s perspective.
  • Stories allow children play out the consequences of actions without having to experience it in the real world. 
  • Great books for character building: “Help Me Be Good” by Joy Berry and “The Value Tale Series”.

Related:

Philosophy

“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke, Philosopher, “The Father of Liberalism”.

In the era of Fake News and misinformation, we need to raise thinking children. Teaching children philosophy is one way we can do that.

  • The world we live rarely black or white. We need children who can navigate the grey issues.
  • In philosophy, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Children can explore different lines of thoughts and perspectives.
  • The more we get children thinking, the better off they will be in future when they are faced with challenging issues.
  • Stories allow us to introduce philosophical discussions with children as we explore ideas from the books they love.

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