We are ruled by our habits. Our habits literally create our destiny. For example, such a seemingly insignificant thing as a habitual way of expressing one’s irritation and anger can be the main reason for success or failure in one’s personal life.
Compare, for example, the chances of success in a relationship with your partner in a person who is used to express his anger using insults, and in a person who is used to express his discontent in the form of “I-messages” (instead of “you are a stingy idiot”, “I would like to receive gifts from you more often” – feel the difference).
The love of reading is also a habit. And it is a self-reinforcing habit. Once you get a taste for it, the pleasure of the result will support the process itself.
How to make a child love reading books?
This question worries many parents. Especially those who have a higher education, a successful career, and recognition of professional merits in the media. Such people know better than anyone that the habit of reading a lot (especially good literature) is the entrance ticket to a life rich in experiences and opportunities.
So how do you help a child “get a taste for reading”? If your child is intellectually well-developed and not dyslexic (unable to distinguish certain letters), it is quite easy, except for one thing – you will have to change some of your own habits. This is more difficult than it may seem at first glance, but this is where the dog is buried.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Be guided by the principle of “books and reading everywhere”
Surround your child with books from an early age. Give your child the opportunity to freely play with books, chew on them, draw in them (at this age it is manifested and developed a love of books, forget about caring – all this later), to build houses and garages for cars with them, and even bathe with them (buy special waterproof books).
The same with the different variations of letters: on cubes, plastic letters, cut out of cardboard, drawn on paper, on magnets and stickers, etc. Make words out of letters, use cards from the Doman system, read signs and posters on the street, etc. Wait – the result will come unexpectedly.
2. Set a personal example for your child
When you have free time at home, choose a book instead of TV or social media. Read books, tell your children about them.
If a child often sees parents with books in their hands, enthusiastically discussing what they have read, no additional stimuli may be needed at all. The “pickle” effect works – a fresh cucumber dipped in a barrel of pickles acquires the same taste. In our case, a taste for reading.
I heard this saying somewhere: “You think that personal example is an effective way to motivate a person? Wrong – it is the only way!” An exaggeration, of course, but not far from the truth.
3. Choose books together with children
Many children (especially teenagers) don’t like to read because their parents choose what they want to read and they are not interested in that choice. If only because it is not their personal choice.
Kids love to shop. Make it a tradition to go to the bookstore together at least once a month, and let the child choose for himself under the following condition: for every book that the child buys, he commits to read one book from your list.
Then even if the child’s choice is not the best, you can be sure that half of what the child is reading is really good literature.
4. Protect your child from the “Big Screen” and “Big Brother”
An acquaintance of mine, when asked “if you were given a machine gun, who would you shoot” replied, “In the TV”. 🙂
Modern media and television has become nothing but a show. Of course, there are educational channels, but for a child to start watching them and taking an interest in them, he must have at least some understanding of the subject. And here again we come to the point that the education of children should begin with books, not television.
Television inhibits your child’s development. Most TV shows are designed for an audience that doesn’t want to think. As a result, children’s thinking becomes passive. Instead of seeking information, being interested in it, the child consumes what he is given.
You may disagree and say that there are really useful TV programs. And you would be right. Except that in practice, the proportion of these programs that a child actually watches is extremely small.
I use the TV set only as a monitor for the DVD player and I can 100% control what my kids watch and how much time they spend in front of the screen.
The same rule applies to computer games and social media. Set a time limit on these useless activities (e.g., 30 or 60 minutes) and conditions for access to them (e.g., do your homework and do your share of housework). Choose computer games to your liking. There are many educational games. There is no need to expose the child’s psyche to scenes of violence and inducements to aggressive actions.
In short: filter what your child sees from the screen (monitor, smartphone or TV).
5. Reward your child for reading
A person tends to keep doing things that, in the end, lead to his enjoyment. Agree with your child on two or three extra privileges that he will receive if he reads an agreed-upon amount of text each day.
For example, extra time at the computer, going to bed a half hour later, going to the movies together on the weekend, etc. Let the child retell what he read. Then you will be sure that he actually read the given volume, and give him a chance to exercise his memory and to practice narrating.
A child’s ability to articulate his thoughts can and should be improved. Because it is the key to career advancement (and in personal life as well).
6. Read to your child before sleeping
It is known that the brain, especially a child’s imagination, develops not only during the day, but also at night. Read him a good bedtime story or story to start the processes of subconscious creativity in his sleep. Even if the child is an adult, you will both enjoy it. Immersing your child in a story together is a great way to build broken rapport with your child.
If you read a book to a child regularly before bedtime, the book will become part of the child’s bedtime ritual and will become an indispensable friend.
7. Read books together by role
Choose a fairy tale, fable or short story with dialogues, cut out the characters from paper, color them and glue them to a cardboard backing with a stick. Then move the table to the wall, cover it with a long blanket, crawl with a child under the table, and holding the figures by the sticks, slip them between the table and the wall. Your puppet theater is ready!
You can also attach decorations to the wall above the table. Rehearse and invite relatives to the performance. You can also do a role-play of a funny story with lots of dialogue, just sitting next to your child. You will both have a lot of fun.
8. Use audiobooks
Now many wonderful works of national and foreign literature are available in audiobook format. For children, you can find a wonderful compilation, “The Golden Fund of Radio Drama on DVD”, which features most of the best works ever “translated” into audio book format.
9. Introduce your child to reading groups
If your child “rotates” among peers who like to read, over time he will make friends among them, and then similar interests. You can enroll your child in:
- a foreign language group;
- theater studio;
- music school;
- art school;
- a history group at a local history museum;
- take him or her on a field trip to the radio or just to a nearby children’s library.
Experience shows that in these communities the percentage of children who like to read is much higher than average.
10. How much reading is enough? It’s time to write!
Of course, compared to watching TV, reading is a boon. Active thinking vs. passive thinking. But still, only people engaged in productive activities, creativity in its various forms, are truly happy.
In this sense, reading by itself is useless, or rather fruitless. Teach your child to use what he reads, for example, by starting a blog in a LiveJournal and commenting on what he wants to comment on. Regular diary notes will help him develop his style and get his thoughts in order. You can also help your child publish a book – it’s not as hard as it sounds, and a burst of motivation is assured.
I will conclude this article with two important pieces of advice:
- Reduce TV time (both yours and the child’s). Reduce the number of TVs in the apartment to a maximum of one, so that there is none in the child’s room. Better yet, use the TV exclusively as a monitor to watch quality programs on DVD;
- Diversify your communication with your child by using books and everything to do with them: read in front of him and with him, bedtime and role-play, go to the theater with children, choose books and audiobooks together, discuss what you’ve read and ask your child for his opinion.