Make Reading Fun Again

I have a little boy who is 6.5 years old. And he reads. Not because it is forced on him, or requested or because he is showered with too many books every day in a hope that he would start (I think this is the most counterproductive of all).

He reads because he has learned to love it. More importantly, he thinks it is a normal option to ward off “boredom”, in addition to playing with toys or playing outdoors or drawing and coloring or even, very rarely, watching a video or two on Youtube. Reading is just another option of things to do. Neither too special or considered above the others nor too boring to be even on the list, like is the case in many households these days.

Another thing you may have noticed is that Television is not on the list of things he does when bored. No. I haven’t restricted it and neither are we one of those households that just do not have a TV. He somehow just never thought of it as an option of things to do to fill time. He watches a little bit when he has dinner sometime, and when he has had enough of food, he seems to have had enough of TV as well.

A lot of mothers, when they come to drop their little ones for Storyhour for the first time, ask me questions like “what more can we do to make him/her read” OR “how do you make them love books?” OR even the very straightforward “How did you teach your son to read like that?”.

I have two extremely simple points to answer those and all other variants of those questions:

The first would be to make reading fun again.
And the second, to make it the most natural thing in the world. Normal. Something everyone around them does.

The first – To Make Reading Fun – is what I do at Storyhour, day in and day out at The Reading Room. But, I’d like to leave the accounts of our Storyhour activities for another post. For now, I shall try and talk about what happened at home that made reading a fun option for my boy.

I read with him.

Yes. It is as simple as that. The emphasis being on “I”, his mother. There were other people who he would go to for reading stories. But the times that I read to him was the most special for both of us, especially our bedtime stories. Even before he could understand the words and I would need to explain the story in Malayalam (our mother tongue), we would read without fail, every night. And this was the time we cuddled, we laughed together, we shared our own stories of the day, when he would remember to tell me about something that happened in the school, we laughed some more and so on till he was nodding away.

What happens here is, first of all, the very obvious fact that there is no pressure on him, no one is forcing him to read and no one is making reading a strict to-do activity. Instead, we have already made it a warm, lovely, happy and fun thing to do. In addition to that, more than the story itself, he has started relating the love, warmth, care, fun and laughter he feels at that moment with books in general.

Sid reading.jpg

So, even if I am not around, picking up a book, especially one among a few favorite ones, brings him a lot of joy and comfort. And that, I feel, is an answer to another question a lot of moms of tiny ones have asked me, which is, no matter how many new books they are given, why is it that the kids get attracted to the same two or three books all the time. The answer being, they are relating to much more than just the story there. They are relating to a whole gamut of positivity they first felt in the moments you shared when you read that story to them.

The second thing is to make reading normal. Not a To-do. Not a task. Not something he feels obliged because you’ve bought him books. But normal. And how do we do that? By being readers ourselves. That one was easy at our home. The boy is surrounded by grandparents who read whenever they get some free time and a mom who is a total bookworm such that he has barely seen her without a book. (To the extent that she left her job and got into the business of reading!) And a father who is a journalist. (Enough said? :D) So for him, picking up a book when you are sitting down was as natural as, well, sitting down. He started off as a little baby copying us and pretending to seriously read, and that just became a habit.

And then there is a third thing that I started recently, inspired by all these steps and some more. I decided that the best way for them to understand how fun books can be is for them to see other kids read and enjoy and make structured, yet unstructured fun and games out of reading.

So, with the intention of making them love reading and to take it to the next level of better imagination, better creativity in writing, better grasping and better communication, I decided to read to a group of children together. Here they shared their experiences and feelings of a story all together, loudly, boisterously and in a total fun manner, all in the context of the story of the day. But that is again going back to my Storyhour. For which we shall get back another day.

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5 thoughts on “Make Reading Fun Again

  1. Lovely article!! Another point probably to add on is probably to start really young!! Like when they are babies!! I personally introduced my child to books maybe when he was around 7 or 8 months. I do not have as many books as I would like to have for him and I don’t spend as much time as I should be reading to him… but still at 18 months he always picks up the few books he has and comes to me so that I read it out to him!

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    1. That is very true. To start early is important. I think one little mistake a lot of us make maybe to wait till they can read, which is in fact not important at all. The idea is to warm them up to the concept of a book, that beautiful stories and wonderful memories come out of those pages. And that when we read them together, we ourselves have these lovely moments of laughter and warmth that we can cherish for life. By doing this, their first emotion to books is of love and warmth and joy and fun instead of studies and homework and tests.
      An early start and a first impression is the best thin we can do towards the goal.

      Thank you so much for reading the article and especially for leaving your comment. 🙂

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  2. I am Charlotte’s mum and I am addicted to reading. I too would read to both my children before they learnt to read every night before they fell asleep. I would tell them to both choose two books of their choice invariably Charlotte would choose ‘Jenny the Vet’ little did I think that when Charlotte grew up it would be her career choice and she continues to love reading. Charlotte was very happy to have met you thank you for leaving your good impression on her.
    Rita Rodricks

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  3. We have led our children to a Sorryhour in their lives, without bedtime stories and letting them off the Book.

    Your Storyhour is just the right time to get them kids to READ.

    Great Work ! I wonder how and where you get your ideas to attract them towords books and reading.

    Keep it up !

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂
      We have truly led them to a sad state. More than everything else that books can do for them, what I really feel sorry about is how they have no clue what they are missing out on. A world of stories, travel, adventures, inspiration, fun, magic, mystery is all just wiped out with one word – “boring”. And “digital” has made them slaves of someone else’s imagination, completely.

      To be honest, my inspiration and ideas come from the kids themselves. Knowing my own son, I took a lot of learning from what worked with him and why he took to books.
      What I understand is that most kids need someone to listen to them. To let them express themselves and give them some quality attention. So when I read with them we also have lots of conversation that comes up from the subject we are reading and they are motivated to convey their own related stories and experiences. There is laughter, warmth, a sense of friendship, a sense of sharing among the kids, they talk and listen to each other…and eventually they relate all this with the books we have been reading.
      All my activities basically stem from this principle – of showing them that books bring us together and that we can have a lot of fun through them. 🙂

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