My son came back from school all excited. The teacher had discussed the topic of Needs Vs Wants. He felt like such a big boy having grasped this essential aspect of life. We had fun discussing the various things we come across (toys are wants, food needs) till we came upon the topic of “Books”. I said they are needs and he was sure that they are wants.
A few days later, at a party family friends and I started debating over the same. About how books are essential for a society as a whole and thus ideally should be a need. The children over heard this exchange and came over.
One child asked, ” Aunty, why do you say that books are needs?”
Not one to leave a teaching moment, I asked the children, “What do you want to be when you grow up? “
“Doctor! Engineer! Astraunaut! Policeman!” They shouted, hands raised.
” How will you learn about these things? “, I asked.
” From a teacher. “, one responded.
” And your teacher will teach you by reading from a book someone has written about how to become an astronaut or engineer or doctor right? “
They all nodded.
” When you grow up and live by yourself you will want want to cook or fix something. That time you will you look for a recipe in a book or read a manual right? “
Their head kept moving in agreement.
“In old, old, old times when man discovered fire and hunting they started scribbling on walls to teach others. So that no one ever forgot how to do them. First they wrote on walls, then stone slabs, then long pieces of paper then short pieces of paper that became books.
People need books to find out how to do things and teach others. And not just teaching, when people tell stories we learn about what we should do or should not do in life. So maybe not all but some books are definitely a need, right ? “
Their mouths forms “Ooohs !” while their tiny heads nodded understanding. I think I could actually see a light go on in all their eyes !
Books for me are a very big part of my life. Growing up whenever I was on my own, books were my only friend many a days keeping me company. They taught me about people and life, helping me grow. I never felt alone when I had a book with me. I never felt lost.
I always trust there is someone out there feeling the same thing I am feeling and writing about it. And if I a lucky, I will find that book and read it.
Trips to the library are our favorite in my household. As a parent I harbor the hope that my children become avid readers as well. The turning of pages, the words coming alive, the curiosity aroused, the answers they find are fascinating. There are many adventures one take by losing ourselves in those rustling pages.
As parents we can help children find all this and more by nudging them in the direction of the written word.
Have a Fixed Time to Read
As with everything in life, something has to be part of our daily routine in order to become a habit. Have a set time or day. Like bed time or holidays or weekends when they know there will be reading and make it an event into itself.
Read With Them
Reading to them is of course a given. But as they grow older they love feeling grown up by helping. So let them contribute with words they know. Pause when you come across a word you are sure they know of. Just like cycling, let them read slowly and steadily till they start doing it on their own.
Write Their Name On Book
Children love being made to feel special. Whenever they attain a book, write their name on the first page. From whom or the occasion. It helps them take ownership of the same. Also, it turns the book into a keepsake to be cherished.
Kids love doing things as a group and showing off their stuff. Call a few friends over. Have them bring their favorite books. Read to them or if they are old enough, have them each read their most liked story. And then ask them questions about the book. Discuss what each one loves about it.
Books make great gifts. Also, you have lot of options at your local discount stores or dollar stores to give as goody bags. If you know the child, give them something that is to their liking. If not, you can choose something to the theme of the party or something age appropriate. Add fancy wrapping paper, their name and a candy if you like.
Give Kids the Choice
Let your children choose the books they would like to read. Let them take charge and you will find they enjoy being the one making this decision. Give them rules of the kind of book they are allowed on that particular trip.
I made the mistake of trying to get my son to love story books but over time I realized he prefers non fiction, science, historical books. And that is what I gave him.
Library and Book stores are Fun
Story time and games laid out at local stores and library are a fun way to make an event out of visits. Some places even have toys lying around. Give them time to move around, do their thing and then read to them in that setting.
Relevant Books at Home
Always keep a small library at home that is within reach of children. It is wonderful that schools today make sure kids have books but those books are not very often those that may interest the children. I myself grew up around a ton of books gifted, hand me downs or picked up while traveling. And a big reason that I read is I have always had access to a variety of content.
Leading by example
As with everything it wonderful for children to see others around them reading. There is something calming about having quiet time. I have many childhood memories of sitting around with my dad, cousins all of us relaxing after a meal together, reading.
Local Reading Programs
It is wonderful that there are wonderful reading programs during the summer and winter that you can participate it. You register, manage a log of the books your read each day and then the kids get a treat at the end of completion. It gives them such a sense of achievement.
Discuss the Story
Don’t just stop at reading. Use children’s natural story telling abilities to turn the reading into an adventure. This helps gets their creative juices flowing. Turn the little ones into master story tellers. Ensure they take away from the story with questions like
- What did they learn?
- What was their favorite part?
- How would they change the ending?
Discussing every story they read and the various characters and the many facets of the story helps children understand that within the tale, there is a basic truth being conveyed by the author. In today’s digital age, where there is so much of information being exchanged books provide a wonderful tool in teaching children how to differentiate between truth and fiction.
More Tips on Teaching Kids About Consequences, Multilingualism, Racial Equality and more Early here