Activities in The Library to Encourage Reading for Pleasure

Most often we tend to associate libraries with simply finding books and borrowing them to read. But how do children who don’t associate much with reading, see libraries? Perhaps a boring place filled with books. Everyone is quiet and with heads bent, nose deep into books. It pales in comparison to what ever activity they enjoy most- playing a video game, watching TV or perhaps even playing with friends outside.

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What if all that action and play can be brought to the library, with poems?

Poems to encourage children to read? Jason Reynolds, the New York Times Best Selling Author in this famous broadcast, beautifully explains how poetry can be less daunting for especially children who are reluctant to read for a number of reasons. He points out that sometimes it is not the subject of the book, the voice or point of view, but something more obvious- the number of words on the page. The amount of text in a page determines whether a child is likely to read the text willingly. For some, more number of words in a page, makes the prospect of reading more daunting. Poetry enables the same story to be told in a lesser number of words, yet meaningfully. To listen to the entire broadcast, tune into How Poetry Can Turn Kids’ Fear of Literature into Love.

Mrs. Poonam Sethi, a kindergarten teacher with 38 years experience, adds that poetry has rhythm which makes it a lot easier for children to absorb new words and remember them. Most children are used to hearing more of their mother tongue at home than English, she says, before they join school. As a result, grasping the new language in school becomes difficult. Introducing the language in the form of poems make it less cumbersome to learn the language.  For a child who is learning to read, rhyming words go a long way in boosting confidence in reading. He or she needs to learn one word and poems offer several rhyming words that sound a lot similar and hence easy to learn.

 

Introducing the language in the form of poems make it less cumbersome to learn the language.

Poetry Combined With Play

Poems in isolation may not completely have the desired effect of enabling children to enjoy reading. They must be combined with discussion and even playful activities to enable children to associate reading with fun. This can be done in classrooms, homes and even in school, private and public libraries.

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A ready reckoner is available right away covering ordinary, yet engaging concepts such as posting a letter, it’s journey afterward, the fact that the police exist to protect us but must be contacted only during emergency,  role of money and banking etc. “Fun With Poems” is a comprehensive resource that contains poems to enable children learn all about post office, banks, money etc. along with discussion points and enjoyable activities that can be easily organised. These activities have a lot of scope for role play and that, Mrs.Poonam observes, has enabled even the quiet children to forget their inhibitions and actively participate. While this book enables children to learn about a wide variety of facts, it also reinforces a positive association with literature in general.

These activities have a lot of scope for role play which enables even the quiet children to forget their inhibitions and actively participate-Mrs.Poonam Sethi.

Look inside: 

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The sample ends here.

Wondering how to interest your child in reading? Try poetry

“Poetry? Isn’t that too literary?” You ask. Of course it is literary but unlike a typical story, it has got lesser text and hence is less daunting especially for a child who dislikes reading for a variety of reasons. What’s more, poems have rhyming words, making reading a lot easier. If your child knows how to read one word, then a couple of more words that sound a lot like that one, become easier to read. Rhythm in poetry enables your child to even have a tune if he or she likes and well why not, they can even sing a poem, if singing makes them feel happy. It is a wonderful way to learn reading.

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Mrs. Poonam Sethi, a kindergarten teacher with 38 years of experience in the field, vouches for the role that poetry has played in her classroom. Year after year, children learn a lot of poems with her. They recite together, discuss it and even participate in activities based on the poems. Observing that children enjoy poems, Mrs. Poonam started to write her own poetry at times when she could not find something apt for her daily lesson plan. Over time, it all got together and became big enough to become a book.

The book has poems on ordinary, yet important concepts such as posting a letter, its journey onwards, the role of the police in protecting us and how they must be contacted only in times of emergency and so on. Supplemented with discussion points and theme based activities for play, this book serves as a comprehensive resource in the kindergarten classroom as well as at home.

What are customers say…

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In collaboration with MerryGoBooks, her illustrated book of  “Fun With Poems” is now available for order. Bonus! You can have this beautifully illustrated book of poems with your child’s name on the cover! Get your copy here.

 

Writing A Book Review Will Not Encourage A Reading Habit

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Children are often encouraged to write book reviews based on books that they have chosen. You would expect them to jump at the idea and get down to work right away.  After all it is a favourite book. Yet, most of the time, children who hate reading, resist the activity.

While it is a great idea to encourage children to write book reviews, using it as an instrument to inculcate a reading habit among children will most definitely fail. Most kids who don’t look forward to reading will not look forward to another activity such as writing after reading. To begin with reading is a chore. Add another activity that they are likely to hate, you have the perfect recipe for a disaster.

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Most kids who don’t look forward to reading, will not look forward to another activity such as writing after reading.

7 year old Adam loves sports but could not find a book on sports in his library for his book review. Instead he chose  a story book that he thought he might like. Back home he had no interest whatsoever in picking up that book, until his mother intervened and insisted that he must finish his work on time. Here is what followed after he read the book.

Mother: “You could start with if you liked the book.”

Adam: “Yes”

Mother: “Awesome! You could probably write what you liked most about the book and recommend it to others to read.”

Adam: “But I don’t want to recommend it.”

Mother: “Why not? I thought you said you liked it!”

Adam: “I liked it but I don’t want to recommend it.”

Clearly, Adam is least interested in reading or writing. Having been coerced to finish his work, he reads the book. Later he is trying to find a good reason to avoid the writing bit. The result is reading is being associated as a chore that results in more homework. There is no room for fun in this whole activity and hence a negative association with reading is firmly established.

What do you do if your child’s teacher sends home writing work based on a chosen book?

The teacher definitely has a specific purpose in sending that work home. The primary focus need not be reading, it could even be to enable the child to refine his or her comprehension skills, the ability to feel each character, appreciate the story and so on.

How to establish a positive association with reading?

You as a parent must have joint reading sessions that you both look forward to everyday. That means a set time and place for reading together.  Did you know that if you stop reading thinking that your child is an independent reader and does not have to be read to, your child could lose interest in reading. All your years of hard work in exposing your child to a variety of books will go waste, if you stop reading.

Reading at all times must be associated with pleasure or fun. The time allotted for this must involve the child choosing a book and having the liberty to say “no” to your book suggestions.

While looking for books, the following pointers may help. Children love it when they know more than the character in the book. They can’t sit still trying to warn the character, but of course the character cannot be warned! A good book with loads of suspense and even better with humour is a treat for lovers of fiction. Lovers of non-fiction is perhaps more direct. The subject matter and the manner of presentation needs to catch their attention. If that’s done, they are on board.

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Hi It is extremely important not to have a test at the end of this activity. You don’t have to find out if your child remembers everything or has understood everything. This has nothing to do with assessment. This has everything to do with fun!

So what are you waiting for? Pull out some time from your busy schedule to snuggle with your child to read a wonderful book today.


 

If you are a parent or a teacher, wanting to contribute your experience with respect to encouraging children to read for pleasure, please feel free to write to readwithmerrygobooks@gmail.com. Alternatively you can ask to join our Facebook Group of parents and teachers- Reading Journey by MerryGoBooks

 

 

 

Does your child consider reading as an uphill task?

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The golden rule to encouraging your child to read for pleasure is to lead by example. If the child sees the parent reaching out to a book or newspaper or a magazine to read as a means of unwinding or just for pleasure, children will follow. 

Asha is a mother to a 9 year old who hates to read. Asha is a voracious reader, who has to have a book going on in the background of her life so to speak! A book that serves as incentive to wrap up all her work on time, so that she can settle with that book without having to worry about anything. Evidently she reads for pleasure and yet her 9 year old does not associate reading as an enjoyable activity. What went wrong?

”Isn’t Diary of a Wimpy Kid” for children who don’t like to read?” she asks. “I got him some copies. Tried telling him that we could read together. I even suggested that I will read 10 pages and he could read only 2 pages if he likes. He read 2 pages and said he is done. When I asked him what happened in the story, he was clueless! How do I make him read?”

Although at first this seems like a situation that makes you think “oh no, the golden rule did not work. Mom reads a lot but the kid does not want to read!” But a closer look points out some very interesting facts.

  • Reading a book is shown as a chore. Saying that I will do some and you can do little if not as much as me, clearly indicates to the child that the parent looks at it as a job that needs to be ticked off. Thankfully, she is being considerate enough to keep his share of the job down to only 2 pages.
  • Being quizzed after 2 pages reminds the child of all the tests that appear in school. Reading is not being associated with joy or fun but something that will be tested.
  • In all probability the mother might have shown her disappointment when he could not tell her what happened in the story.

All that put together gives the following picture to the child:-

Reading is a chore that I can get rid off by doing a little. It is detestable however as I may get quizzed later on. Worst of all, my mother gets disappointed with me. But I detest this activity and I do not like seeing her disappointed. If I can somehow completely avoid this activity then I am free from all of the above.

 

Do you have another opinion of what could have gone wrong? Feel free to write about your opinion to readwithmerrygobooks@gmail.com. 

What to do if your child wants to read a mediocre book series?

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My son wanted to pick up a book in the library, which I did not approve of. No, not that it was beyond his age but it just appeared to be too silly. He is proficient in reading and in my opinion could handle a higher level and more meaningful book than the one he was holding in his hand.  But of course all the research available to read comes back to my mind and tells me that I must not impose my own opinions and preferences especially when it comes to books. However, I am unable to let this one slide as he wants to pick up all the volumes in that series. I simply had to step in and suggest that he can take one of those and try something else for the remaining quota. That irritated him to the core and he took off saying that he does not want any book to read.

It just brought me back to my dilemma. Should a parent let their children read anything as long as they are reading something? Even if it means reading substandard books that do not have well written prose? After mulling over the matter I have come to the conclusion that it is ok to read something that is not up to the mark as long as you have something really good to supplement it with. It is just like us wanting to watch or read something incredibly silly, simply to have a break or have some time off from using the brain a little too much.  Telling them to avoid those books completely sets the rebel in them to grow and all the years of hard work to inculcate the love for reading is lost just like that.

The middle path solution

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After much thought, I came up with a middle path solution. I found out what attracted him to the book and then reasoned out that taking more books of the same series may backfire if he does not like the first book in the series. I  also added that we may not be able to come back to the library until next week, which means he would be stuck with a pile of books that he may not like. Instead if we had some variety, even if one does not work, there is a high probability that some other book might be an excellent read. That rationale worked! Later, he agreed that the book in question was not as great a read as he thought it would be. In fact another book that he had picked up from a totally different genre was extremely good and he would like try more of those.


 

Have you been in such a situation? Do you have some tips that others can use? Feel free to write to me at readwithmerrygobooks@gmail.com and get a chance to be featured!

 

Do You Remember How You Learnt To Read?

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In all probability you will not remember as that phase as someone said is ancient history. But for your child it could be an unpleasant present, if reading is a chore that needs to be done every single day simply because the teacher at school or a parent at home insists upon it. Needless to say, the chances of your child picking up the reading habit is extremely low. 

Imagine you are learning a new language, with a totally different script to make things worse. It is going to take time for you to grasp and if someone sat you down to make you read each day, insisting that you must read whether you like it or not, what would you do? You probably will go ahead and do it as in all probability you volunteered to learn the new language or you are forced to learn for professional reasons. If it is the latter reason, sure it can add a lot of stress to your life!

That is how it is for children too. If you insist that they practice reading because it is going to keep them in good stead in the future, it is hardly going to work. Children are about enjoying every minute in the present. By telling that that developing a skill now is going to do them good in the future, makes no sense at all to them.

Children are about enjoying every minute in the present. By telling that that developing a skill now is going to do them good in the future, makes no sense at all to them.

They crave for attention and love. Reading a book together is a great way to spend time together, talk about many things, paving way to many fascinating questions that may not have risen otherwise. What could be a better way to find answers to all those questions by reaching out books and reading all about a subject? Books are then associated with fun, love, spending time with a parent, finding answers to questions and not a chore that needs to be ticked off every single day.

Reading to make them feel important

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Long texts are daunting to read. How about small messages in post it’s stuck on the fridge or someplace that attracts attention? These could be addressed to the child and could be reminders or short and simple instructions such as “Keep the jam inside the fridge.” The focus is no longer on their ability to read, but the parent shows that the child is trusted to be capable of reading and following simple written instructions. It is a huge confidence booster and kids tend to feel important when parents show confidence in a child’s ability to do something.



Are you a parent who loves books and has been trying to raise a reader? Would you like to share your experiences for the benefit of other parents? Write to lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com

 

Hearing A Million Words Before The Age of 5. Is that really necessary?

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It is often said that reading to your toddler is essential and if you do, by the age of 5 your child would have heard a million words or maybe more. But why should your child hear so many words by age of 5? What will happen if he or she learns a thousand or more words slowly after the age of 5? What is the hurry? Do you as an adult know or even hear a million words?

It is not the number of words your child has heard or learnt or can remember. It is the love for books that you inculcate in your child early on. Babies are naturally curious, wanting to absorb every little new thing that comes their way. Obviously they will not remember every single thing they see or every single word you say or read unless it is repeated several times. Repetition enables them to register and even try using it. It can be a new word, a new habit or new step in their development stages. But repetition is the key.

Reading a book as a habit forms early, when the child is read to every single day. Even easier if there is a particular time of the day when this beautiful activity happens. It could be on the meal chair or a bedtime story or just a cuddle time with a parent or a grandparent. That time of the day must be associated with love and when done repeatedly, settling with an interesting book brings about positive association with reading itself. As time goes by, printed words are not daunting. They are as familiar as so many things around the house. Hence later when it is time to go to school, and when words keep popping up all over the place, they are not daunting at all. Many words would sound familiar as the child would have heard them over and over again. Learning to read phase transition takes place more smoothly and reading continues to be a pleasurable activity.

That time of the day must be associated with love and when done repeatedly, settling with an interesting book brings about positive association with reading itself.
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Sans repetition, books are not familiar objects and even more so new words. There is no positive association with the activity and hence when it is suddenly thrust upon in school, many children who are not read to every day develop a severe dislike to reading.


 

Are you a parent who loves books and has been trying to raise a reader? Would you like to share your experiences for the benefit of other parents? Write to lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com

Reading Can Help Your Child Accept Sadness, As Just Another Emotion

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Do you squirm when a story you are reading to your child gets really sad? Are you worried how your child will react on knowing that his or her favourite character dies? By wishing that sad emotions just disappear does not make them go away but stay hidden deep inside, waiting to burst at a later point of time.

Talking about feelings while reading a book

Reading a fictional book where drama happens, people go through bad times and perhaps rise later, death occurs etc. gives room for some difficult discussions to happen in a stress free environment. After all the story is a figment of someone’s imagination. This is a lot easier when compared to facing the same event in real life or reading about a real life tragedy in the newspaper. No doubt reality hits harder than fiction. But what fiction does is that it gives your child the peace of mind required to raise some difficult questions and seek truthful answers.

Stories such as Lion King, Charlotte’s Web, Gangsta Granny have a knack of drawing you into an incredibly absorbing story, make you love each character and then something happens to the most likely favourite character. It is bound to make the reader feel shock at first and then be overcome by emotion. A six year old is in tears when he gets to know that Charlotte, the Spider in Charlotte’s Web eventually dies. His mother holds him close and lets him cry. She does not answer his question, “Why does Charlotte have to die?” immediately. She lets him express his feelings and then after a while explains that feeling sad is normal, happens to everyone and in those times people take care of each other. She lets him know that she is there to take care of him now. Find this story

Accepting the fact that any other emotion, other than happiness is ok and can be dealt with

As adults we are prone to a variety of emotions. Wishing therefore that children must experience only happiness is unrealistic and does not prepare them for the future in anyway.  Feeling sad or disappointed is just another emotion and reaching out to someone close to cry out or just talk is the normal thing to do. Similarly, reaching out to someone close in distress is the right thing to do is a basic lesson that all children need to learn early on to be good human beings.

A variety of children’s books exist today that enable you to curl up with your child and talk about a variety of subjects from a third person’s perspective. What could be a better way to learn and accept different emotions and how to deal with them?


 

Are there any books you have stumbled upon that have enabled you to have conversations with your child on very serious topics? Would you like to share? If yes, please write to me at lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com.

Advertising Reading As A Fun Activity

Good ads make us want to experience a new product or service. Encouraging children to read for pleasure is no different

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It is 8 am in the morning. John is a year old. He chuckles when his mother brings out few really colourful board books. These are small enough for John to hold in his hands, just the way he sees his mother read her book. He takes only a few seconds to choose the book of the day. Mother and son settle down to read the book together. Like most babies, meal time requires some sort of entertainment and for John it has to be with one of his favourite books. His mother Sara says, the moment he opens a book, his mouth too opens and meal time is a breeze. He generally chooses books with vehicles, but today he has chosen the “Old MacDonald Rhyme Book”. His copy has big pictures of all farm animals and he waits patiently for his mother to come to his favourite line about dogs and say “woof, woof”. John bursts out laughing. Clearly this is an activity that he looks forward to. Books to John means fun, seeing a lot of colour, touching and feeling interesting pictures and above all, hearing his mother’s voice.

A year later, Sara is talking to someone on the phone, keeping an eye on John. John walks up to his book cupboard and much to her surprise pulls out one of his favourite books, sits down and using one finger, he goes from one image to another identifying them one by one. At the end of it he looks up and gives a big smile. Sara says “He is super thrilled to know that he could do that on his own.

John started off knowing early that books meant fun and give him a good feeling. He also learnt that it is ok not to like a book and push it aside. Reading a book meant bonding with his mother. All put together, books are a great place to go to.

Reading a book meant bonding with his mother.

However things start to change, when he starts learning to read in school a couple of years later. He does not like the fact that he has to see text instead of pictures. Sensing that this is the problem, his teacher lets him take his time with pictures before coming to the text. She advises Sara to do the same at home. Over time, he starts to learn to read on his own.

His teacher lets him take his time with pictures before coming to the text.

Advertising storytime as something really desirable

Just as good ads tempt us to try a product or service or create an innate desire to experience something new, the way you present books to children matters a great deal. It’s important to advertise reading as a fun activity and not just another chore that no one likes to do. Here are seven simple tips that can help you be creative in your advertising endeavours:

  • Read and discover new books together: If your child dislikes a book, close it and move on, even if you love the book. Over time, you would have a good idea of what fascinates them.
  • Go shopping together. If your child is old enough to handle money, give your child a budget and tell them to have fun choosing books in the book store. The trick is not to interfere. Let them feel good being given the responsibility to shop by themselves. As long as the books they pick are age appropriate, let them have fun.
  • Take cue from the shopping experience to gauge the kind of books that attract their attention. Collect more such books and leave it around the house.
  • Do NOT give incentive to read: Incentives are required to do something that is not exactly enjoyable but absolutely needs to get done. Giving an incentive to read a book, gives a wrong signal.
  • Make sure you read and enjoy books: Many parents whose children don’t read, often show lack of interest in reading themselves.
  • Read the books that your child enjoys: Talk about what you liked in the book, something you did not quite understand and so on. They feel good getting all the respect. You become a pal and not a strict parent who insists on reading everyday.
  • Read aloud any book no matter how old your child is: There is not hard and fast rule that picture books are only for small children. There are amazing picture books that can be read out loud at any age and enjoyed for the suspense and illustrations. For resources refer Is your child old enough to read and yet insists that you read? Should you be worried?

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Story In Every Personalised Story Book

Every child is unique and deserves to feel special. We at MerryGoBooks strive to make every child feel like super star in a story written from the scratch, specially for them, keeping their specific interests in mind. 
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Why not standard stories to choose from?

  • Standard stories lose the element of surprise before the book is delivered as you already know the story before you place the order. So when you read along with your child, the thrill of finding out what would happen next is lost, as you already know the story. On the other hand, when you order a book with MerryGoBooks, you can have the pleasure of discovering what happens next with your child.
  • Standard stories don’t give you the option of including people your child loves in the story.
  • Standard stories enable you to make it only about your child. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in a storybook, with people whom your child loves? It could be anyone parents, grandparents, cousins, best friends and so on. It is the perfect way to preserve some very special memories.
  • Standard stories need not necessarily cover all your child’s favourite characters. At some level it is impossible.
  • Non-standardised books by MerryGoBooks makes it possible to make even wild combinations to come true. Let’s say there are two children who are best friends who would be very happy to appear in the same story book.  One likes Spider Man and the other Mermaids? Not a problem. At MerryGoBooks we can spin a take that makes room for both Spider Man and Mermaids!

 

If you would like to discover the world of personalised children’s books at MerryGoBooks here is how you can do it.

Fill up the order form and submit. Click Order Formto place an order