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Raising readers

Why you should push your kids to read

It’s Book Fair week at my daughter’s school and she’s all excited. “Mom, I saw books about fairies and princesses. Can you please come to school and get them for me, please,” my five-year old asks while batting her eyelashes. “Of course, sweetheart. Do they have Thea Stilton? You know your brother has a whole collection of Geronimo Stilton books. He’s a mouse who works as a writer and has all kinds of fun adventures. Thea is his sister. You might like them, too,” I tell her. Her eyes light up and she proceeds to ask me multiple questions about the Stilton siblings.

Happy at the book fair!

Happy at the book fair!

Bookworm

As a child, I read everything that I could get my hands on. Reading became my passion at quite an early age. At six, I devoured The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I kept saying “constrictor” for two whole days after reading the first chapter. Then there was the Choose Your Own Adventure series, which allowed the reader to decide how the story would unravel. I was hooked! Later, I moved on to mystery books written by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew) and Agatha Christie. Many recess periods were foregone so I could save up for those.

The Power of Words

Bookstore babies

Bookstore babies

As a parent, I’ve made it my mission to share my love of reading to my children. Here are some ways that have helped me achieve this. First, I only give them money on two occasions. They can spend on food and on books. If they want toys, they would have to wait for their birthdays and for Christmas. Second, I bring them to the bookstore every chance I get. In fact, I can say that the bookstore is the first playground of my kids. Introducing them to the smell and sight of a thousand books heightens their excitement. Seeing me with a book in hand and engrossed in pages also shows them that reading is an activity that they can share with mom. Third, I read to them in the most animated way. Seeing them smile, laugh, surprised, or even sad lets me know that they’re really listening, thinking, and enjoying. Books fuel kids’ imaginations and bring them to different realms. It allows them to look at the world through the characters’ eyes and feel how others feel. It makes them learn empathy. Fourth, I have a small library in the house. Books are readily accessible any time of the day. Fifth and most important of all, I delay their exposure to gadgets. We all know the dangers computers and handheld devices pose to young minds. It’s our duty to give them the correct kind of stimulation that will allow them to grow productively.

Right now, I can see the benefits that reading has given my children. Their attention span is longer, their vocabulary is ri cher, and they’re growing up as confident people. My 13-year-old son acts in plays, competes in math Olympiads, is part of the school debate team, and writes for the paper, too. My little girl brings a new book from school every Friday and completes a book log where she writes about and draws her favorite part of the story. Every night, just before we close our eyes, we tell each other a story in the dark. Because of reading, she has learned to make stories of her own. This delights me to no end.  And yes, I will buy her the princess book she requested and will add some mystery books for good measure.

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