One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children. —Carl Sagan
In a recent research study that was conducted among school-going students in the age-group of 8 to 14 years it was discovered that less than 15% of them read books other than what was prescribed as part of their school syllabus. This survey was done across 15 major cities in India. The participants of the survey were all regular school-going students and from regular households. The result of the survey is alarming and is directly linked to the growing use of smartphones and tablet devices among young children. If you take pride in your kindergartener playing games on your smartphone with ease, then you need to be prepared for the smartphone addiction that you are creating. In a way, parents are to be blamed as well. They feel that playing animated rhymes on the mobile phone will keep the child occupied and let them go about their daily chores with minimum fuss and supervision. It is high time that such parents begin to consciously make an effort to engage their children, read aloud to them and also motivate and encourage them to read.
One of my favourite quotes is by William James – “So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.”
How Reading Helps?
Reading aloud improves vocabulary and gives children the confidence to communicate effectively. As the child grows, parents and teachers are advised to give them access to age-appropriate story books and graphic/novels or comics that spark curiosity in their minds. Stories transport readers into magical new worlds and also motivates them to try attempting to write on their own.
Some of the key qualities of children who grow up reading a lot of books in addition to their text books are:
- Strong memory and cognitive skills.
- Visualizing or mental imagery that lets them write and draw based on their own ideas.
- Effective communication skills allow them to speak with confidence.
- Less time spent on electronic devices for entertainment
- Self-questioning and enquiry – they think well enough before they ask questions.
- Summarizing – Ability to jot down key points and summarize a discussion with ease.
It is important that both parents and teachers understand the value of books that are not linked to the curriculum and give young children the access to story books, fairy tales and rhyme books. In India, the Amar Chitra Katha comics are an integral part of growing up. These simple and well-illustrated comic books took youngsters on a wonderful ride covering history, mythological tales and parables. Give children the chance to read, ensure that they do not get addicted to the smartphone or television which eventually reduces their attention span. Today, there are numerous libraries I even smaller cities that actually deliver books at your convenience. There honestly cannot be any excuse for not inculcating the reading habit in your child. Do yourself a favour by reading out aloud to your child, who knows you may find comfort in the habit and begin reading novels once again!