I Want My Child to Read (But I Don’t)

Getting your child to read when you don’t is a daunting task. But there is a way! Here are some tips and tricks for parents who don’t read.

In 2019, I had written about how my child learnt to read fluently, which went around the internet for a while, creating a bit of a buzz. In later conversations with parents and teachers, I realized that I’ve missed out on speaking to those folks who don’t read much themselves. 

My wife and I are both authors and storytellers, and so we both read voraciously. With that in mind, it’s easy for me to stand on a high hill and give advice about reading. Our definition of a good Sunday is to sit comfortably and read books. For other people, this may mean a long drive, playing a sport, or just watching TV. Maybe a picnic for the outdoorsy types.

So, I thought to myself, what is it that I don’t do, but I want my child to do? I’d like for her to learn to dance, or play a sport.

Then I asked myself again, what do I do to encourage her to dance or play a sport?

With some help from my wife, I’ve managed to boil down the answer to 5 key points:

5 Steps to Getting Your Child to Read

1. Adult Role Model

Children pick up habits from the adults around them. If you are a voracious reader, then your child will want to pick up reading just to be more like you. If you are not a reader yourself, then you could introduce yourself to adults around you (friends? family? teachers?) who are readers. This will help inspire your child to imagine herself as a reader.

But be warned that if you introduce your child to an adult who is a reader but is also an unlikable person – then instead of imitating, your child will form a reaction – and may be repulsed by reading. 

2. Routine

All habits start simple – with a basic routine. In my little girl’s case, we decided that she could try skating on Sunday mornings. For a few months, that was our Sunday routine. Everyone in our family had changed our Sunday schedule to accommodate for Sunday skating. 

In getting your child to become a reader, you could pick up a similar routine – 1 new book every Sunday. Or maybe a bedtime reading routine. Or a Monday evening library visit routine. Start with something simple.  

3. Peer Group

Reading is an intensely private habit. We read quietly, in a corner, without disturbing anyone else. However, like with everything else, we love to talk about it! In a way, the reading habit is a group activity where we read alone, but discuss and tell stories in groups.

It will be helpful for your child to have a little peer group where the kids can share the stories they read and motivate each other to read more. Maybe a reading club? A friend who also goes to the same library? 

But remember- kids are of many different moulds – some are shy and private. Forcing kids to talk about what they read may demotivate the shy child who finds comfort in the solitude of a book. Take it one step at a time to understand what your child prefers.

4. Access

In a bid to encourage my child to pick up a sport, we got her a cycle, skates, and a badminton racket. It’s quite obvious – she can’t play badminton without a racket. 

For your child to be a good reader, you need to provide her access to 1000s of books. Buy books! Get a library membership. Be friends with people who have lots of children’s books at home and shamelessly borrow from them. 

The simplest way is to download an app with books in it! Like the fREADom app. Most of the books on the app are free. Access our paid titles with an annual subscription is just Rs. 1500. That’s cheaper than most other options on the market!

5. Support

Support from you is critical for your child. If you have taken your child to a dance class or to cricket coaching and you have stood by the side and cheered your child on, then you know what your support can mean to your child.

You will have to read a few books with her/him. Discuss them. Read a few books yourself. Participate in your child’s reading routines. Especially in the beginning.

Once your child forms the reading habit, you can step back and relax. Your future is going to be easy. Because children who read well do consistently better in all subjects and require lesser tuition in primary school, high school, and senior school. And they get admissions into better colleges.

So there you have it! 5 solid, usable tips!

fREADom App

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