Early Ticket to the World of Reading -Fahmida Mehreen
Reading is an entrancing world. While you are reading, be it fictional or non-fictional, for those particular hours and minutes, you are literally blocking out the hubbubs of the real world and engulfing yourself in the world within the books. Your brain is super active processing all the new or even already known information to new dimensions. Your brain is storming myriads of new ideas and thoughts. It helps to filter out negative energy and instill more positivity. Sometimes, reading a book triggers memories from the past, either good or bad. Regardless, it helps to recollect and compose the point of view and move forward thereon. Reading is extremely therapeutic.
This is such an activity that is not defined by any age. Starting from young toddlers to very elderly people, anyone can have the habit of reading. Different people have different interests and preferences, such as some like science fiction, while others like historical biographies; some like e-books while others prefer hard print; some like magazines and newspapers over books, and so on. No matter which type of material a person chooses to read, the functioning of the mind gets improved.
Any matter coming to children requires extra attention and thorough understanding. Reading is no different. There are ample questions regarding children’s reading: when is the right time to start reading, what should they read, how to teach them properly, how will they benefit, etc. As a matter of fact, in order to make something habitual, it is always better to start early. Children are adaptive and tend to learn more by seeing and observing. So, for a start, introduce colourful reading and drawing books to the children so that they get used to the object itself – the book. Let them figure out that is rectangular or square piece of ‘thingie’ has a lot of colours in it and pictures to look at. Gradually with time, make them familiar with the words. Help them to apprehend that is not only pictures but there is more to it. For very young children within the age group of 2-3 years old, independent reading may not be possible. So, any member of the family – can be parents, grandparents, uncle, aunty, or even nanny can start to read aloud. The child will familiarize with the sound of words and eventually have the ability to connect the dots between the pictures and what’s being said. Therefore, without actively teaching a child that a lion lives in a zoo, with the help of a story and an accompanying picture, the child will automatically learn the fact effortlessly. Besides, since children are very observant; thus, adults should practise reading around the children so that they feel that it is part of regular life and they need to adapt to it too. Without any strict instructions to read books, they are systemizing it in their mind.
Reading together is a great activity which helps children bond with people, particularly parents. As they grow up, the discussions encircling books and reading get intensified, which is an excellent exercise for the brain both for adults as well as for children. Because of the inquisitive mind of children, they come up with a wide array of questions as they read, which sometimes pushes the adult to think out of the box in order to answer their questions. What an amazing thing, isn’t it? Moreover, it gives children a more profound sense of attention, love, and reassurance, which is of utmost importance for their nurturing and well-being.
There are numerous benefits of reading for children besides improving relationships with people around them. Reading helps a child to engage in the world around them. They start to understand that outside the four walls of their houses, there is a bigger, brighter world that isn’t necessarily like the amusement parks they go to. In fact, it is rather quite different. Reading helps a child with cognitive development and enables him or her to think about our world in the context of intelligence, reasoning, language development, and information processing. While reading, children come across a lot of background knowledge which assists them in making sense of what they see, hear, and feel, which escalates their cognitive development.
As we read a book, we put ourselves in the story. We get involved and feel like to be a part of it. This gives an opportunity for a child to develop empathy. As they go on exploring the feelings of the characters, they are subconsciously fidgeting with their own psychology. Children can use this learning to empathise with the world around them. When they see someone getting hurt on the street, they will have a sense of helping them or seeking attention from their parents. They will get better ideas about how each emotion feels like, and what triggers them and eventually learn to deal with it in their own lives. This further helps with their social and emotional skills development.
A book has the power to take us anywhere: different cities or even different universes. By reading a quality book, children can learn about different cultures, people, and places, which will not make them feel out of place once they are out in the world. They can easily normalise in any given situation with reference to something they may have read before.
Reading to children initiates their understanding of the process of reading. Before learning words, they gain knowledge that reading requires turning pages and looking from left to right. They also learn that it needs focus and attention. According to numerous scientific research, reading to children at even the earliest months of their lives can help with language acquisition and stimulate the part of the brain that processes language. Hearing words spoken aloud can help to improve their vocabulary and make learning much faster than done otherwise. They learn which word to use with which to make a short phrase leading to a short and then long sentence.
As reading calls for more concentration, children come out of their restlessness and practise settling down. It helps to calm both their mind and body, which is beneficial psychologically and physically. Likewise, reading engages the imagination. Children are being able to visualize what’s happening on the pages of the book and draw it on the surface of their minds. It is necessary that they learn to imagine more about the people and things around them. This developed imagination leads to greater creativity as children use the ideas in their heads and convert them into a work of their own.
As they start to grow older, independent reading has to be encouraged. By the age of 5 years, a child should be able to read an age-appropriate book on his own. Practice makes it perfect, and the more a child reads, the better their overall academic achievement and social skills like compassion will be.
As stated earlier, the habit of reading needs to be started early to help a child learn a language quickly and improve speech clarity sooner. Reading helps to beat speech impairment in children. Instead of making it an occasional activity, try to make it a part of the daily routine for the child. This will help the child get disciplined. Try out a variety of books so that it doesn’t get boring for the child as well as give him a wider span of information to ponder over. Most importantly, have patience when reading with a child or trying to make a child read independently. Not every day will be the same. But don’t give up. The days it is not working well, keep it short or give preference to what the child wants. The next day, pick up from where you left off. Discuss what your child has read to ensure the open-mindedness of your child. Ask simple questions like, “Did you enjoy that story?”, “Who was your favourite character?” or “Why do you think the princess was happy at the end?”. Nevertheless, this may not be necessary for every single story they read. If your child enjoys the book, it will develop a love of reading anyway, even without any conversation.
Since the literary world is vast and has no limit to knowledge, make certain that when your child is reading a book, you are ensuring that it is age appropriate. This is a sensitive task that children cannot do without the supervision of an adult. So, before buying your child a book, go through the synopsis yourself and then make your choice. It is preferred not to introduce anything to a child which can negatively impact their thinking or distort their idea about something.
So, if you have a young learner at home, on the next occasion, get the little one a bunch of books and start your discovery. Help and encourage your child to read. Let them have a picture of the world before they start their own journey outside the secured zone. Instead of handing them a tablet or a mobile to spend time with, give them a book to read. This will spare them from the horror of impaired eyesight, lack of commutation, and other evil barriers in the path of their healthy learning. Let them break free of their imagination and redefine their comfort zone. Happy Reading!