Reading even for 10 mins at a time can be a difficult for children who love being active. These same children do not have any problem watching a TV program for an extended point in time, provided of course the program interests them. Sitting in front of the TV watching a good TV program is not difficult, but sitting with a book in hand is difficult. Why?
What is missing in the book is that element which interests or fascinates a child enabling them to immediately tune in. While that is an important reason, another very critical reason is that reading requires effort while the visual medium requires very little effort. Reading requires effort and it is daunting for a child who is not well versed in independent reading. Reading and understanding at the same time is extremely difficult for children who hardly read. It is a vicious circle. Learning to read is a difficult skill that requires tremendous combined effort from the child, the parents as well as the teachers. It also requires a lot of patience. Reading is associated with being a task in itself. Energy is drained by the time the child has finished and feels less satisfied as they haven't been able to pay any attention to the story itself. To know what happened, they will have to read all over again. Obviously, that is hardly inviting.
Reading requires effort and it is daunting for a child who is not well versed in independent reading.
Books can help bring about interesting conversations between parent/teacher & child. This process can make the reading effort less daunting. Here is how.
Talking about pictures is something children love doing. They enjoy digging up small details, piecing it all together to guess what is happening in the story. It gives them a holding hand while they decipher the words on the page and when those words start to mean something that they can easily connect with in the picture, there is a feeling of joy. That feeling, when it occurs over and over again in a child's mind, it reenforces the fact that reading is a happy event. The result is a growth in self confidence. Eventually over time, they begin to feel comfortable moving on to illustrated books that have more text than pictures and are longer too. But at this stage, it becomes more about the story itself and the joy it can bring about in the reader's mind.
Pictures gives them a holding hand while they decipher the words on the page and when those words start to mean something that they can easily connect with in the picture, there is a feeling of joy. That feeling, when it occurs over and over again in a child's mind, it reenforces the fact that reading is a happy event. The result is a growth in self confidence.
Children who are exposed to books early on in this manner also tend to have the support through out the "learning to read" stage. Hence they tend to become very comfortable with reading and eventually begin understanding too at the same time. The reason is simple. Reading over time becomes second nature. All the support that they get from parents and teachers early on, helps develop a positive association with reading.
What if that kind of support wasn't available due to a variety of reasons. Then?
Not all is lost. Access to a variety of books and the choice to independently pick a book is the key. Libraries are treasure troves in which there are beautiful treasures waiting to be found.
Buying books when one isn't aware of one's reading preferences can get pretty disheartening and may even end up denying your child the joy of reading. Finding a good library that stocks up books written by varied authors with easy lending plans takes the pressure of you as a parent and your child. For a fraction of the cost of buying multiple books and the risk of these books being abandoned, libraries can enable your child to explore books freely with out the guilt of abandoning a book. There will always be another reader who will pick up the abandoned book. All that you need to do is to take the first step, get a good library subscription.
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