Reading is one of the most fundamental skills children need to learn. It keeps the brain active, creative and imaginative. However, the culture in which we are presently situated is heavily technology based. So,with the changing digital habits, children are getting away from the reading world. Instead of spending time reading, children spend their time playing online games or on various applications. However, Reading habit can be fostered in children in many ways.
Children are born imitators. Every interaction with them involves some opportunity for them, for imitation. They learn a lot through just watching and copying people around them. In simpler terms, children do not understand, ‘Do what I say ‘they rather follow, ‘Do what I am doing’. Parents being the primary caregivers have utmost responsibility to present themselves as ideal role models or examples whom their children can imitate. Many Parents spend their own time looking at the screens of their cell phones but order and expect their children to read or study. This creates an inconsistency. Children, however look for consistency in the information they get from the environment and in what they see, as a result, the verbal information begins to fade away. Thus, the best way to develop reading habit in children from the beginning is through their parents. When they watch their parents reading, be it a book or a newspaper, children begin to imitate this behavior, thus helping them develop interest in reading.
Many children usually have a daily schedule or routine for all the chores and activities, such as eating time, playtime or nap time. Making ‘reading time’ a part of this schedule would help children to follow it in routinely fashion. Parents can join along in this routine as ‘Family reading time’. Reading along with children is thus another way to keep them hooked to reading.
Taking children to bookshops and giving them the liberty to pick up books of their choice and interest gives them a sense of autonomy, control and responsibility. Children are more likely to complete a book with interest when they have picked it themselves, even if it is because of the attractive cover.
Furthermore, children are often fascinated by super heroes,comic characters and fictional characters. Then there are creativity based books, pop-ups books, books with coloring activities. Such variety of genres and interactive books makes reading an enjoyable activity and helps in maintaining their interest.
Reading habit can also be inculcated using reinforcers or token economy system. Rewarding or praising them for reading will help strengthen this behavior. Extra playtime or Television time can be given to children for every extra time they spend reading. As for token economy, for instance, children collect points for reading certain number of books, these points can be later exchanged for some material reinforcers, such as their favorite game CD or a toy. This behavior however, needs to be faded gradually, to ensure that the child continues the habit without the presence of any reinforcers.