Even during vacation time, children today have no problem keeping themselves occupied for a whole afternoon. After all, they have easy access to gadgets and gizmos such as video games and personal music players. There are also those who enjoy nothing more than spending time connecting with friends on internet social sites. These activities, when done in moderation, and under parental supervision, are fine and even helpful for children.
However, there is one indoor activity that parents should encourage their children to do freely, and that is to read a good book. There are so many benefits to getting children to curl up with a good paperback. Experts say that reading develops a good vocabulary and helps schoolchildren strengthen their spelling skills. It can also encourage them to write their own stories later on. Furthermore, reading also helps with schoolwork, because children are more exposed to, and can learn from concepts and ideas.
Good book choices can help build character and critical thinking, enabling them to make choices for themselves as they grow older. One great example is the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, wherein readers have to make a decision at the end of each chapter that determines what will happen next in the story. Books like these can prepare children for life situations and encourage them to weigh options, think fast and be able to take control of certain situations, no matter how young they are. Some books even deal with having a new baby in the home, being bullied in school, or having a first crush. These can be very helpful in giving children a heads up before they face a similar situation so they’ll know what to do next time they encounter such a moment in their lives.
Indeed, reading has numerous benefits that include building empathy, creativity and curiosity. When children read, they often find themselves relating to the characters in the story, whether it’s because of the choices that are made or the emotions of the characters. Placing themselves in the shoes of the hero, for example, exudes a sense of confidence and joy when the villain is taken down. When the hero is in a difficult situation that is all too familiar to them, there is a feeling of sympathy. Being able to empathize with characters in books is a good way for children to learn how to be sensitive to the people that surround them.
Reading also encourages children to be more creative and curious. Books are a wonderful way to stimulate the imaginations of young ones by painting visual stories for them through words that allows them to imagine how it would look in their minds. At the same time, reading about interesting people, exciting far-off places, historical events and the like enables them to want to learn more about these things and further expand their knowledge.
These are all definitely skills that can help children succeed in life.
Here are some great ways to get children hooked on books:
1. Catch their interest. Parents can make reading less of a chore by getting them excited about the book. As with anything else, parents should encourage, and not force. Start with the book versions of favorite movies, and move on from there. If the child liked a movie about pirates, look for books such as Treasure Island to whet the appetite. You can also let them loose at the bookstore to choose for themselves, because they might find helpful books that deal about what they are going through in school or with their friends. Books that form part of a series are good ideas too, because the child loved the first book, he will want to read the next installment. You need not worry about your budget, as there are many secondhand bookstores that sell at discounted prices.
2. Leave reading materials lying around. Make books accessible to children by putting up a bookshelf in their bedroom, or strategically placing a few age-appropriate reading materials in the living room. If they get bored with playing video games, they might be encouraged to pick up a book.
3. Make reading comfortable and conducive. Create a good reading area, whether it is in the bedroom or in another quiet spot in the house. The lighting conditions should be adequate and the area should be as cozy and inviting as possible. Make sure that it is situated away from the television or other distractions.
4. Keep a children’s dictionary handy. Some children may get turned off from reading if they encounter words that they don’t understand. Keeping a children’s dictionary handy can help solve that problem, or they can highlight the word and look it up for themselves, or come to their parents for help.
5. Give incentives. Parents can present their children with an extra treat after they finish a book on their own. It can be a later bedtime on weekends, or preparing a favorite dish for dinner. Another good prize would be the latest installment of the book series that they are reading.
6. Be a role model. Children should catch their parents reading too! This would show them that that parents value the written word, and that it is not just lip service. Parents should find time to curl up with their own books, or at least squeeze in a meaty magazine article or the newspaper headlines. Turn it into a bonding tool. Parents can use reading as a jumping point to a meaningful conversation. Discuss latest reads; ask why the child likes them, and who the favorite character is, etc. Talk about the books that you read when you were that age, and why you thought they were “cool”. These discussions make children feel important that their parents are interested in their ideas.