Once upon a time, parents read to their children before bedtime…beforethe regular intervention by television, computers and telephones. Thechildren benefited from close contact with their families, they honedthe ability to sit still and follow a story, their imaginations wereboosted by all the creative input, and reading skills were put in placebefore schooling even started. And they all lived happily ever after.
Well OK, maybe the last bit is stretching it but the rest is not afairy story. The benefits of reading to our children are immeasurablebut in a world where screens rather than pages dominate, we need to tryand re-introduce a passion for books and all they can offer. Here´show:
- Allowing children some scope to choose what they want to read is essential. Your child might not want to read from a classic but could happily sit for hours with comics or magazines…in this case a magazine subscription gives them fresh material every month.
- We have to accept also that times have moved on, and whilst curling up on the sofa with a good book appeals to us as parents, maybe finding a website with reading material and games that encourage reading aloud may grab their attention.
- Visiting the library is a fantastic way to let children browse through all the available books, letting them find one that triggers their imagination. Many libraries have reading groups for children, encourage them to try this once or twice…seeing other children get enthusiastic about books might encourage them. (Library books also encourage them to respect other peoples’ property as well, never a wasted lesson.)
- One thing that never fails to get my kids attention is when mummy turns into Sinbad the Sailor or the Gruffalo…act out the story, make it come alive! Let them see what good fun it is, and turn reading into a game by asking what they think will happen on the next page.
- Never discourage interruptions; it shows the story is prompting questions and triggering their imagination…just what you wanted!
Reading is a really special gift we can all give to our childreneveryday, if only for 10 minutes. It doesn´t cost a lot, is great funand is a real investment in their future.