It is easier to nurture a reading culture in children when they are still in the early formative stage as infants and toddlers (some mothers even read to their unborn child!) because children at this stage are so malleable and have not yet been exposed to various other options of utilising their time. It is however still possible to nurture a culture of reading in a child who has already become a reluctant reader.
One of the important things needful for wooing a child into the culture of reading is consistency. If mum is consistent about giving 10-20 minutes daily or every other day to story time with her son –reading to him, discussing the pictures with him and asking him a few questions about the story –the child will grow to become expectant of such times and will often express disappointment when the routine is broken. Simple consistency on mum’s part can go a long way in developing an affinity for books in her son.
Another important aspect to consider when nurturing a reading culture in your child is the time spent during story time. Children generally have a limited attention span and it is important to take this fact into account during story time. You want to make story time long enough to pacify them and yet short enough to leave them at a place where they are still enjoying the story when it ends. It is therefore important to find age-appropriate books which will not be too easy or too difficult for a child. A librarian, bookshop agent or teacher can help a parent in finding age appropriate books.
Making story time fun and engaging is a winner ingredient for nurturing a love for books in a boy child.
When a story is told expressively and interactively by giving different voices to different characters, allowing a couple of demonstrations, answering and asking questions and increasing or decreasing the speed of reading where relevant, a child cannot help but engage and participate in the story! If mum or dad is not familiar with how to effectively engage with their son during story time, it may be helpful to watch a few children’s programs where reading aloud is demonstrated on YouTube or on TV programs like Takalani Sesame on SABC channels and Old Jack’s Boat and Winnie-the-Pooh on CeeBeebies.
Maintaining a feeling of intimacy during story time is another beautiful way to keep your child coming back for more stories. This is usually achieved through physical contact such as carrying your child on the laps or cupping them under your arms. If they are more than one and it is quite impossible to have your arms around all of them, it is still alright if they are huddled all around you –maybe one seated by your side, another on your laps and another cowering over your shoulders –as long as there is some physical contact!
The cosy feeling children experience by being near you as they are translated to worlds of magic and adventure is absolutely priceless!
Exposing your child to books regularly is needful for nurturing them to a place where books become as normal to them as the toys he plays with. This can be done by building their own library by purchasing a book or two for them every month or two and they can even be secondhand. Joining a local or school library is wonderful way to widen your child’s resource base and it also teaches him to take care of books as they need to be returned in good condition. Forming a book club with a couple of your child’s friends, where they exchange books regularly, is also helpful.
If you are a parent who may be starting off a little late on the path of nurturing a reading culture in your child, it may not be as easy starting with a child who has already developed a lack of interest in reading but it is still achievable! There are ways of getting today’s reluctant reader successfully into the habit of reading as long as the parent maintains consistent!