“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway
I am an avid reader and would like my daughter to love books as well. I introduced her to picture books very early and telling and reading stories is an everyday affair. She loves reading her books and reading the same books again and again means she recognizes the pictures and what is to come. Her love for books is such that I can now use reading a book with her as an incentive for her to get something done. I know it is not a great strategy, but I find it better than bribing her with chocolates and TV time.
Reading also helps children in building their vocabulary and language skills. Above all, it gives them a friend for life which will remain with them through thick and thin. Here are a few tips on how to introduce children to books and raise a reader.
Start Early/ Books for infants
Introduce your child to books as early as you feel comfortable. I introduced my daughter to picture books when she was 5-6 months old. At that time it was just some pictures with one word and the items were things she was used to seeing. So her first book had pictures of ball, balloon, stroller, diaper, bottle etc. It helped her relate to those pictures easily.
- Go for board books or cloth books so that you can let them handle the books without worrying.
- Choose brightly colored large pictures with only one word or two.
- You can sit the baby on your lap and then point to the pictures.
- Your child will also look forward to the nearness and this can be the perfect bonding activity for you and your baby.
Books for Toddlers (1-2 years)
Once your child becomes more aware of happenings around you, you can start with stories. It is OK if they do not understand everything, your voice is enough to make it a special occasion and something which your child will look forward to. These sessions can play a great role in speech development.
- Choose age-appropriate books with large pictures and very little text (one sentence or two). It is alright to read a story once in a while but children this age are more taken by pictures. 3-dimensional books are usually enjoyed by children this age.
- You can also introduce books of alphabets and numbers for familiarity.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
Books for Toddlers (2-3 years)
Children over 2 years have a lot more understanding of the world around them, so you can start reading books which are likely to interest them. So if you child likes to go to the park, read a book about playground and what all is there.
- Books which revolve around a certain character like Clifford or Pepper are liked by children in this age-group and more.
- Classic stories like “The Gingerbread Man” and “The Three Little Pigs” are usually a hit with all children.
Books for pre-schoolers (3-5 years)
My daughter is a pre-schooler now and we get new books every couple of months. That does not mean we have forgotten our old books. We still love reading our level 1 books but the interest level is more varied. It is difficult to point our favorite books are, but we try to find books on varied topics.
We get books like the “Cat in the hat” series , when we want to learn about something and we also love characters like “Charlie and Lola” to all books by Julia Donaldson and now Judith Kerr. Here are a few recommendation, though it is very difficult to stop at just a few.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Room on the broom by Julia Donaldson
Encourage understanding by asking question and answering them
Once you have read a book, ask some questions to make her think about it. When we read the Spring Garden , I was surprised to see how much she had grasped. I asked her questions like what all do we see in a garden and she could answer very well. Also answer any questions that your child asks you.
Take the child to library
My daughter comes with me to the library every week and she loves picking up books for herself. Yes, I have to explain that she can take only one book at a time or sometimes have to convince her to pick a new book and not the same book which she has read many times and recognizes on the shelf immediately, but she loves going there and would not have it any other way.
So what do you do to get your child interested in reading and to love books? We would love to hear from you!!