Dumbfounded was I, when I observed a 4 year old child moving his fingers at a fast pace like Michael Jackson’s dance movements, while playing with a smart phone game. Children need either a micro (phone), mini (tab) or mega screens (TV) for their recreations. Gadgets have become inseparable from them, especially during holidays.
Those days before the advent of satellite TV and other gadgets, children spend their time either playing outdoors or reading books. Any holiday home works or essays to be written, their only source of reference were books. But books were not easily accessible. Parents could not afford to buy books other than their academics. There were very few libraries. Schools hardly had libraries of their own.
Now the trend has changed.. Those children who yearned for books have become parents now. So they want to give their children what they could not easily access. They are ready to buy books for their children. Lot of books with attractive illustrations for children of all age groups starting from
0 yrs are getting published. Private libraries and online libraries have sprung up in many places. Unfortunately most of the children are reluctant to read mainly because of gadget addictions.
Here are few thoughts that could inculcate reading habit among children
· Bed Time Stories – Bed time stories are the best way to stimulate interest in stories for children. Children irrespective of age could be told a story before they go to bed. As they grow up, they can read on their own and in fact tell a story to their siblings.
· Start Early - ‘Aindhil Vilayaadhadhu Aimbadhil Vilayaadhu’ goes a Tamil saying meaning, what is not taught at the age of 5 cannot be taught at 50. So reading habit should start at an early age. Make it interesting through games like "I Spy" where children have to find words starting with a particular letter from a picture book. Children also get fascinated with "Touch and Feel Books" , books with colorful pictures, Stickers and Activity books.
· Be a Trend Setter – Children practice what they observe. If they watch their parents sticking to phone or laptop, they also develop interest only in gadgets. Try to reduce gadgets usage at least when your kids are around. If they observe you reading books, they would also replicate you.
· Library Visits – Make it a practice to visit library regularly at least once a week. The library ambience will create interest in books for children.
Morals – Choose books that teach good morals and discipline for children. For instance "bubbles" books teach good morals through stories.
· Knowledge is for Knowledge sake – The World revolves around money. As parents, we have the responsibility to motivate children to read good literature in Tamil and English. Insist on reading for knowledge and not just for marks. Marks will naturally follow.
Just like music, a good book brims your heart with pleasure.
We do not want our children to be just wealthy citizens, we want them to be good citizens as well. Don’t we?