How To Make Kids Enjoy Reading

“Read! It’s good for you!” How many times were we told this when we were children? And how many times have we, in turn, repeated this to our kids?
However, unlike a generation ago that was content to be lost between the worlds of Blyton, Blake and Bronte, today the allure of screen-time and instant gratification has seen books left behind, far behind. The fact that kids do not read much these days has caused much consternation among parents and teachers who know and value the infinite benefits of reading.

“We want to get kids reading, but they are under increasing pressure to do so, and it can overshadow the joy of this wonderful shared activity,” says Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., a professor emerita at Lesley University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the author of Taking Back Childhood.

So what can we do as parents that would make reading an enjoyable activity? How do we make it a natural, welcome part of the day rather than an enforced, or even coerced task, taken on only reluctantly?

Especially now, with the Diwali holidays around the corner and children at home due to the many restrictions, reading is the perfect way to de-stress, be entertained, increase brain power, enhance comprehension skills and even empathic skills. Reading books can make you laugh, smile, cry and rage; opening portals to other worlds and ages long gone, to mystique and discovery, to failures and triumphs. If adults treat books as if they were magical (and they are!), kids will grow up believing it too.

Here are a few suggested activities that may help to make reading more enjoyable for kids during the holidays.

  • Read aloud:
    Reading aloud has educational and social value besides being a lot of fun. Have read-aloud sessions on lazy afternoons. Take turns, do 'voices' and make the story come alive. Turn into a captain, a dragon, wizard or a mouse. Make the tale come alive right there, in your house!
  • Swap the KPop and Rap for Audiobooks:
    For struggling readers, audiobooks are a great way to get started and do better. Hearing someone else read a story aloud quickly, accurately and with good expression is a great way to experience fluency.
  • The Reading Zone:
    Create a small reading nook or zone, cosy and full of books. Give it a name- make it a place everyone would want to be. Make books easily accessible to children. They should be able to reach for a book with the same ease as they do their phones or TV remotes.
  • Reread the same books to the little ones for the nth time:
    Younger readers benefit from the repetition. Though they seem to be looking at only the colourful pictures, they slowly learn to turn the pages, listen to the phonics and finally realise that there is a story. Contrary to adult boredom, children love that they know what comes next.
  • Bring the books you read to life:
    Plan investigations, meal menus, outings (when possible) around books you are reading. Everyone loves making real-life connections with things they have read, even if they are purely fiction. Non-fiction books like biographies take on a whole new dimension when followed up with seeing actual locations, artefacts in a museum or trails in a jungle. Though this may not be possible to do in person right now, many brilliant websites offer 360-degree tours of hundreds of locations. Go on a virtual tour!
  • Set up a movie date:
    Read the book then watch the movie. Pick a classic and read it together, a few chapters at a time. When you have finished reading the book, plan a family movie night to see the film version. Discuss which one was better. You may be surprised by the answers!
  • Set up a Home News Views and Reviews Channel:
    TV anchors or YouTubers all have a lot to say; kids consume a lot of this content. Try to encourage kids to become producers of their own content instead. Role-playing as news anchors, book reviewers to discuss a book, its characters, the plot or the setting, depending on the child’s agency and ability, can be a precursor to building many other skills - confidence, fluency and general knowledge.
  • If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em:
    Social media is woven into the fabric of modern life. Use them to set up virtual “book and me selfie clubs'' or such, with like-minded participants, posting their feedback on closed discussion boards. By blending the two, books find a place in their Gen Z space!
  • Fiction or Non-fiction?:
    Encourage kids to read a variety of books. Magazines, newspapers and biographies allow kids to become interested in things they do not yet know they care about! The benefits of reading fiction are numerous - it makes readers more imaginative, improves memory, has an impact on social skills and enhances empathy. Research confirms that “the same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience; it is a social experience.”
  • Share you ‘go to’ Books:
    Finally, be genuinely interested in what your child is reading. Ask questions- it enhances not only comprehension but also critical thinking, reflection and deeper learning. Share your own experiences of how books have impacted you, inspired you or rescued you from life’s many challenges; big and small.
Reading books has a magical ability to allow us to see the world through the eyes of another, to understand our world and ourselves a little better and to imagine and build a better world! This Diwali read a book with your kids to light the lamp within. Happy Diwali and A Happy New Year!

Image source-freepik


Aadit Shah

Jasmine Palia

English Teacher - International Curriculum

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