04 March 2013

Raising an avid reader

Recently, I read an interesting article about raising an avid reader. Indeed, a child who reads becomes an adult who reads. Habit starts from young, good and bad... I have started my children on the reading habit since they were toddlers. Reading is one of the important element for improving one's language skill, especially Chinese. Read and they can pick up new words and learn the correct sentence structures. Read and they can learn to appreciate good literature. Read for growth of knowledge... The benefit is endless.  

I would like to share this article with you. My thoughts (if any) is added in italic. 

A child who reads becomes an adult who reads. Most adults who begin reading at an early age continue to learn by reading throughout their lives. Reading is more than a necessary skill - it's a source for learning, entertainment, enjoyment and comfort. The skill of reading can be one of the most valuable gifts that you give to your - or any - child. 

Still, the question remains: How do you get children to read? There are so many distractions in today's world - television, cartoons, and video games, to name a few - that it may seem impossible to get your children to sit down and read, let alone turn them into reading enthusiasts. As a mother who has raised five avid readers, I can tell you that it's nowhere near as hard as you might think. Here are ten important tips for getting your children to read - and loving every minute of it.

1. Let them see you read.

I'll bet you thought that #1 would be "Read to them", didn't you? That's important (and it will get its own tip), but the single most important thing you can do to raise children who love reading is to be a reader. It doesn't matter if you read magazines, newspapers or books. What is vital is that your children, from an early age, see reading as a valuable and fun thing to do - and the best way to show them that is to read in front of them.

Happy Cottage: Parents are the best role model for our children. My son sees his father read the newspaper everyday and requests to read the newspaper too.

2. Read to your children regularly.

Bedtime stories are an enduring childhood ritual, but don't stop reading when your kids outgrow being tucked in at night. In our house, we made nightly reading a part of our evening - not at bedtime, but in the living room. Even when they reached their teens, my kids would often wander out into the living room to listen if I was reading to younger brothers and sisters.

Happy Cottage: We started reading as a bedtime routine when the kids were very young. Now at age 5 & 7, they can't sleep without a dose of story reading. It has become a habit that is hard to kill. Now that they are older, I get them to read to me. I help them with words that they do not know. I do not want to scare them with a huge chunk of text, so I will ask them to read 1 page of a particular book to me (at the moment). I will reward them with reading to them other books they pick. 

3. Talk about what you read.

I am not suggesting that you should give your kids a reading comprehension quiz every time you read a story to them. Instead, get used to talking about the books that you read in casual conversation. Mention how excited you are that your favorite writer has just published a new book. Ask them how they think Ramona (or Harry Potter) would handle a situation. Remind them about scenes in stories that you read to them when you run into similar scenes in real life. 

Happy Cottage: This practice trains your child to express what he observes in the book and how he feels about the story. It builds up his skill in comprehension, composition and oral examination.

4. As soon as they're old enough, get them a library card.

Your public library is still the very best source of reading material. Take your kids to the library often. Hang out with them in the kids' room and let them choose their own books. Get them familiar with the librarian, and let them see other people enjoying books.

Happy Cottage: If your child is not a member yet, head down to your nearest library and register him for a membership. You can visit www.nlb.gov.sg for more info. 
Children under the age of 7 are given free membership cards. School-going children (Singaporeans and PRs), aged 7-14 years can use their School Smart Card as a membership card to borrow library items after registration. Anyone aged 15 and above can use their NRIC / NTUC Link Card / SAF11B / School Smart Card / Singapore Mint Personalised ez-link Card/ CashCard / Driving Licence / Passion Card as a membership card to borrow library items after registration. 

5. Make a big deal of their personal writing.

Writing gives kids an appreciation for the written word and deepens their enjoyment of reading. When children and teens start writing their own stories, they stop viewing books as something magical and unusual, out of their reach. If your children write, treat their writing as you would any other book. Buy them a journal. Help them create and bind their own books. Put their books on the bookshelf next to their bought books.

Happy Cottage: Start small. Younger kids can draw a picture and write a word or two about it. Then progress to short sentence, short paragraph, short composition/ journal. You can frame up their masterpiece and showcase them in the living room/ bedroom. They feel good when you recognise their work.

6. Subscribe to children's magazines.

Books are fun, but magazines offer a different kind of reading and engagement. Too often, even we adults only consider it "reading" if it's in a book. Magazines are colorful, topical and fun. Many children who consider reading a chore when the reading comes in book form will eagerly snatch their favorite magazine from the post box the moment it arrives and not put it down till they've read every last page.

7. Make books and magazines accessible - in every way.

Buy books and magazines for your kids as gifts. Make sure that there are books around the house in places that are easy for them to reach. Make sure, as well, that the books you choose are accessible - written for the right age level, and geared to their interests.

Happy Cottage: You can also leave some in the car so that the kids can bring them along and read them whenever they are bored. For example, while waiting for the food to be served in an eating place.

8. Institute family reading time.

When your kids start thinking they're too old for read-aloud, institute a family reading time. It can be as little as twenty minutes a day, or an hour two or three nights a week. The only rule is that everyone in the family participates - shut off the televisions and computers and everyone reads.

Happy Cottage: Totally agree. Stop the distraction and let everyone read together. It's a time for family bonding too.

9. Show an interest in what they're reading.

The single most valuable reward for most kids is attention from their parents - so pay attention when your kids read. Notice it when they read a book that you remember. Ask them what the story is about. Talk to them about the books that they like.

10. Watch movies based on books - and then read the books together.

The other way around may work as well. Television and movies don't have to be the enemy. When you read Charlotte's Web, rent the video and watch it together - then talk about how well it captured the book. Or reverse the process - watch Harry Potter, then read the book together and talk about how much more depth there is in the book. Either way, you're fostering a critical eye and showing your children that behind every movie or television show is a writer and often, a book.

About Author: Grant Eckert is a freelance writer who writes about children's education.
Re-post from http://www.Article-Hut.com

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Welcome to Happy Cottage!

I started 开心屋 - Happy Cottage because I have 凯 and 欣 in the house. Together they are the 开心 (sounds like) team.

Mommy loves Chinese language and is a big fan of Chinese story books. Thus the kids often receive interesting children Chinese story books from mommy. Many of the children Chinese story books are so beautifully drawn and well written that I like to read them myself.

Learning and loving the language is not an easy task in Singapore as our environment is not condusive enough for such learning. Thus I believe I have to create such an environment at home. Through daily communication in Mandarin and regular reading of the Chinese materials, I hope to cultivate their likings for the language. You can find many of the books in the Book Store.

Besides introducing children Chinese story books to you, I would also like to share some learning resources and tips on the usage of the language here. I've met some parents, in their best attempt to communicate with their kids in Mandarin, misread some words or used an incorrect sentence structure. You can find the information in the tabs above.

So, why is this blog written in English? I know of many parents who have kinda lost touch with the language. If I were to share in Chinese, then it may not be as effective.

Do come back often for more updates.