Oh, reading! You just cannot describe enough the value of reading! Reading is a skill to communicate, it is a means to gain knowledge, and it is a way to understand different people.
So why are we not reading? If you are a parent or a teacher with little lives under your charge, please do take a minute to consider how you can add books AND reading into your little ones’ lives. Some of us spend so much on enrichment for our kids to gain skills that we do not have, like ballet, violin, taekwondo etc. Yet, for the skills we possess, have we made a conscious effort to pass it on?
READ A VARIETY Read different kinds of books - fiction, non-fiction, classic fables, stories from different cultures, read books in your mother tongue and whatever you may think of. Reading just one genre does not extend the value that BOOKS have to offer. Reading just one genre can instead restrict one’s thoughts. So let’s embrace a variety and what books have to offer.
Can young children understand a non-fiction? Yes! My 2.5 year old recently saw paratroopers at the Army Open House and was mesmerised. He started to ask about parachutes. At the library, he was restless as a toddler could be while I searched for books. As soon as I took hold of an information book on parachutes, he sat down silently flipping through the pages, deeply engrossed. This book has been his favourite for a week now. Read according to your child’s interest at that moment. A while back, we read about motorbikes and you will be surprised how children can finish off the sentences in the book, name the parts when they see one in real life!
ENJOY THE HUMOUR AND RHYMES We all need to laugh a little more, enjoy and savour life a little more. Books have that to offer. Some books are hilarious, some play with the English language beautifully. Dr Seuss books are wacky, unconventional in style and love to play with the language.
If you would like to start your young ones with beautiful rhymes, try Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? If you have a kindergartener, your child may like a silly story of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie or the super fascinating, If I Build A House by Chris Van Dusen.
READ CRITICALLY, IMPART VALUES You may not always agree with the values presented in some books. Yes, that’s where you as the older, wiser being have a role to play. Some fables or classic stories may not have the best of values as it was written to reflect some preferences and state of the society of that era. When you read them, you can have a discussion with your child about the actions and values portrayed. For example, through Jack and the Beanstalk, you can have a discussion on whether Jack should have stolen from the Giant. For me, I shared plainly that I do not agree with Jack, because he stole. Hansel and Gretel, is another book that may come across morbid. But these books have become classic tales and I do expose my 5 year old to them. However, we also have a post-reading discussion. We talk about our feelings and whether we agree with the characters in the stories. You do not need to like everything you read. You can disagree!
BOOKS HELP TO RELATE You can even use books to help children to relate to some of the things happening in their lives, such as starting school, having a new baby, having to stop some bad habits, starting potty training to name a few. Books can be an easy way to introduce or talk about what is happening and going to happen.
WON’T SIT? HOW ABOUT MOVEMENT BOOKS? My toddler shuts books when we took them out! We left it as it is, as we did not introduce it to him at a younger age. When he was 20 months, we read a book with lots of actions and that sparked his acceptance and interest in books. That book was From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. Besides movement books, there are so many books with flaps and different touch-and-feel books in our library! The collections there are well maintained and many are new.
FREE GIFT! Can you believe that you will be given FREE BOOKS and CD by just signing up for library membership and borrowing six books? Well, here’s the catch, this National Library Board program is only for babies born 2016 onwards. I must say I was tempted to have another baby. Grab this opportunity to jumpstart reading with your young ones or share this information with someone you know with a baby born 2016 onwards.