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Make reading fun for your kids

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Reading should be an exciting activity, especially for children, says Busayo Adebowale, Director, Inspired Kids Network. Sadly, it is not so for many children, as a lot of parents make reading seem like a chore or schoolwork.

Children should not be forced to read; it should start out as a culture when they are babies. A parent’s tone and manner could either excite a child or make them bored and disinterested.

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“Don’t make reading a punishment – I remember my dad, a typical African father used to say to me ‘bury your head in your books’. I never enjoyed reading until senior secondary school because I always associated it in my mind with stressful work.”

Adebowale, who is also the convener of What’s Next Conference, for Secondary School Leavers and Admission Seekers, said that play should be incorporated into reading.

Play is one of the strongest ways children learn and every story has boundless play possibilities. There’s no telling what you can find in a book, you can find a song, choreography, role play, debate, art, and so on, all you need to do is open your mind to these possibilities, and get ready to play and learn.

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Read aloud to the – children are made readers on the laps of their parents. Reading alone is one thing, but it becomes more fun when a story is shared. Reading aloud to your children is such a powerful tool for making them fall in love with reading, it encourages bonding too.

Allow them to choose their books – this part is tricky because most parents want to ram their book choices down the kid’s throats. Don’t forget that they are humans too and have likes and dislikes, so honour that. Let them choose their books. For younger children, you can narrow the choice down to a certain number of genre and then avail them the liberty of choosing. They will show more interest because it is more personal for them.

Explore Genres – If you are always stuck on one genre of book, it might bore your child but when you embrace varieties of books and a blend of genres, it becomes more exciting. Introduce audiobooks as a way of spicing things up a little.

The mother of one noted: “Talk to your child and listen to him talk about the book he is reading. When you have this kind of interaction, it makes the experience extra special. It also helps your child relate the book or story to the things or happenings in their environment.”

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Get interactive books – For younger kids, don’t be solely a picture book person, invest in interactive books like touchy-feely, pop up, song, puppet, and lift the flaps books because they bring your child into the story. For older kids, you can look into having a reading challenge with some reward. Create games around the books they are reading, they will definitely love that.

Have a special reading time – Bedtime is a perfect one for this. Bedtime stories are a great way to ignite the passion for reading in your child. Build and situate reading into your child’s bedtime routine and they will always look forward to reading.

Enrol your child in a book club, it ignites and sustains your child’s interest in reading. Most importantly, be a role model by investing in books as a parent. Children don’t listen to what you say, they see and hear what you do. If you want your child to love books, be a reader yourself. Invest in books and let your child see you reading.

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