Take a cue from these ideas on making reading time fun for your little ones and get them excited to hit those books.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
As a kid, I spent a lot of my time reading books and I have mostly my mum to thank for that. When I was younger, she would bring me to the library on most weekends and let me loose in the world of books. She even prepared a special basket at home where I could place my borrowed books in. Coming home and seeing the basket filled with books always made me look forward to getting through each of them as quickly as possible.
Parents play important roles in cultivating good reading habits in their children. Especially in this technological world, it is becoming increasingly crucial to not only get your child reading but also to make reading time fun for him, and we have some ideas to help you with just that.
Help your child remain engaged in the book by asking him questions about the story (What do you think will happen to this character? Why do you think he/she acted in that way?) This will also allow you to see whether your child can follow and understand the plot of the story. Nothing will discourage a child more from reading than having difficulty in understanding the story, so asking him questions will enable him to digest the story and improve his comprehension skills.
It’s great if your child can read silently by himself but encouraging him to read aloud is just as important. Besides helping him improve his attention and comprehension skills, reading aloud can hone his ability to read expressively. Get your child to create voices for the different characters in the book and have him read to you or a younger sibling.
You can even turn this into a fun family activity by getting the whole family to join in. Your child can narrate the story while the rest of the family play the different characters in the book. This can especially be a great exercise if your child is shy or anxious about reading aloud. By having the whole family take part in the reading activity, this might make it less daunting for your child and build his confidence in his reading skills.
Let Your Child Choose
Allowing your child to decide on the books he wants to read will make it more likely for him to remain interested in what he is reading. If you and your child have an established bedtime reading routine, let him choose his bedtime book a few nights a week. Or you can bring him to the library and let him borrow some books of his choice. Don’t fret if they are not necessarily something you would choose for him. Just having the freedom to choose his own books will make reading more exciting for your child, which will go a long way in cultivating his reading habits.
Keep the Passion Going
Reading books on your child’s favourite topics is a great way to keep him reading. Whatever your child is interested in — be it dinosaurs, aeroplanes, space, animals and the likes — reading books about his interests will encourage him to start, and more importantly, continue reading.
Customised Reading Space
Not only does the topic of the book matter, your child’s reading location can have a great impact on his reading habits too. Creating a special place just for him and his books might help put him in the mood to do lots of reading. The key is to create a space that your child would want to spend time in, so ask him for ideas on how he wants his reading area to look like. You can lay down some soft and fluffy rugs, pile on cushions, and hang fairy lights. Once the both of you have got the reading space sorted, bring in the books and get started with some fun reading time.
Reading doesn’t always have to be a solitary activity. By forming a book club, your child will be part of a reading community that can keep him motivated to read. You can create a book club just for the family, or you can have one with your child’s friends and their parents. You can even let each child take turns choosing the book to be read.
Make it more exciting by preparing snacks related to the book theme. Reading Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham? Prepare some actual green-coloured eggs for the kids to eat. Or how about baking some Eiffel Tower-shaped cookies for the kids to munch on while reading Madeline?
Putting up decorations to recreate the sceneries in the book is another way to make reading more fun for the kids. You can transform your living room into a jungle for a reading of Where The Wild Things Are or put up some floral decorations to transport the kids to the world of Miss Rumphius.
Book Exchange Party
If you’re not keen on a book club, how about holding a book exchange party instead? You can invite your friends and their children and have them bring one to three books each. Prepare a table where you can display all the books your guests have brought – plus the ones your child wishes to exchange – and let the kids have a ball in choosing which books they would like to read.
Top off the party by preparing some book or language-related food such as cookies in the letters of the alphabet or a book-shaped cake.
Bring Stories to Life
You can transport your child into the world of his storybook by bringing him out for book-related excursions. If your family has a camping trip coming up, you can read him a book about camping and all the fun activities he can expect during the trip. Or if you and your child have just spent the day at the zoo, you can complement the outdoor excursion by reading an animal book.
You can also ask him questions that relate to your trip while reading such as “Do you think we’ll be able to see stars as bright as the ones in the book during our camping trip?” or “Didn’t we see a giraffe just like this one at the zoo?” By asking him questions and relating them back to his own personal experiences, they can make reading books that bit more exciting for your child.
Take advantage of your child’s creative imagination by asking him to write and illustrate his own stories. You can also join him in this activity. Simply let your child decide on the topic, and then both of you can take turns writing each sentence of the story. Once the story is complete, your child can read it to you. If you have multiple children, you can get them to write the story together.
Books are not the only reading materials that can be used to improve your child’s reading habits. A different way to make reading fun for your child is to have him write letters to his family members or relatives. For instance, you can get him to write a letter to his grandparents and when they send their reply letter to him, he can read it out loud. This makes a great activity for your child as he is still practising his reading, just from a different reading material. Just be sure to give your family members the heads up of your idea beforehand.