Aarya is a ten year old who hates books but loves being read to! Ofcourse she can read on her own but does not want to. She still prefers being read to. Her mother takes the cue and reads to her along with her siblings who are 6 and 4, a bedtime story almost every night. But there is something missing. She never likes to pick up a book on her own and read it. The mother worries that her spellings are not improving and believes that reading on her own will help her absorb spellings better. “She is ten and still fumbles with spellings!” she complains. “I keep telling her that she is old enough to read, but she refuses.”
If you are contemplating that perhaps this child has a problem or a disability of some sort, let me stop you right there. She has no identified disability and there is no major complaint from school about her performance except perhaps a lack of interest in independent reading.
Someone asked her, “You have three kids. You can read a book to them everyday.” She replied, “I do, but I fall asleep before they do.”
Any guesses on what is wrong?
Here are few of my guesses. Feel free to add on.
1. The attitude of the parent towards reading is not exactly the perfect one. She appears to be looking at reading activity as a chore and does not realise that her child was sensing it and believing in it.
2. Highly possible that she does not read or perhaps no one in the house is ever seen reading.
3. The choice of books for a bedtime story needs to fascinate the adult too so that the adult can be actively involved in reading and enjoying the story with the child.
If you as a parent want some inspiration on how a story must be read to a child, take a look at https://www.storylineonline.net. It is the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website and streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more. To begin with make sure, you listen to the books Library Lion, Enemy Pie & I Want My Monster.
Enabling your child to move to next level of reading
Children who know how to read independently may hesitate to move the next level. Reasons are likely to be
- the lack of willingness to move out of comfort zone,
- reading is already a chore-choosing the next level makes it harder than it already is,
- Preference for certain genres that may not be easily available in the next level.
This is a problem that is not as daunting as it looks. It has a simple solution. Read to your child. Joining your child in picking out next level books with some encouragement and assurance that if the book gets boring ever, it will be dropped, helps a great deal. This reinforces the fact that reading is for pleasure and not to perform. It is important to convey that there is no pressure, whatsoever. These simple steps ensures that reading is a bonding activity and any book that makes it less enjoyable will be dismissed without any argument. Period.
If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.