Saturday, April 14, 2007

Teaching the Love of Reading

1. Share reading time with the people you love.

When my children were still babies, toddlers or in preschool, and occasionally, when they were in early grade school, I would put them on my lap to read to them. It was still fun to do even when they could read on their own. Now, they’re all grown up and they’re voracious readers. My husband theorizes that maybe the warm and fuzzy feeling of their being close to my body when they were young had become associated with reading, and while they no longer sit on my lap -the eldest is 30 and the youngest is 23 - ;), the association remains, albeit unconsciously. Unfortunately, my husband and I were at our busiest at work when our second daughter was growing up, and we did not get to spend as much time to read with her. It is sad but no wonder that she did not take to reading as much as the two other daughters did, but she caught up with it on her own later (more on this later).

If you are just going to start with reading together when your children are too old to sit on your lap, try sitting next to each other and reading the same book. I think that as long as you are still physically bigger than they are (say, they’re 7, 8 or 9 or a even bit older), you can still put your arms around them so you can look at a book together.

At times, I could be in bed with a book in my hand and my husband a few paces away, working at his hobby table, and I would try reading some passages from the book that I was reading – at one time it was John Grey’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, at other times some snippets of stories from Readers Digest – with him, and we would share a laugh - which goes to prove that no one is too old for sharing the love of reading.

Spend time reading together. Usually, this is before bedtime, although it could be anytime. I remember that before my children learned to read on their own, they would ask me to read book after book after book to them. Since I dramatized the reading (changing voices for each character in the story), it was fun but tiring, and my jaw would hurt from reading so much, but my heart was full.

2. Get books that your children are interested in.

As I mentioned earlier, one of our daughters did not readily take to books, until we discovered when she was two years old, that she had this fascination for horses, and at bookstores, she would pick out books that had pictures of horses in them, especially if the pictures were on the book covers. It was the same with the toys that she would ask us to buy for her. Although I could not explain where this fascination came from, I latched on to that and bought all the children’s books on horses, or containing stories about horses. Until recently, she remained in love with horses, and we keep buying her books on horses.

Find out what your children (or spouse) are interested in – mystery, airplanes, dinosaurs, football, cooking – anything at all, and make books on them available in your home. The beauty of books is that there is something on everything for everybody.

3. When reading is really difficult, ease them into reading.

When they were in high school, they all seemed to have trouble reading in Pilipino, especially Philippine literature. One of their teachers suggested taking them to watch movie and play versions of the Rizal novels that they were supposed to be studying, so that they could get the plot, meet the characters and have an overall feel of the stories without having to struggle with learning all that while reading in a language they were not at home with. I also looked for comic books (the same way I found cartoon books on statistics or physics), and looked for book versions of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo that had better, more readable fonts. (I do not understand why publishers insist on using archaic fonts). In short, I wanted to make reading easy and pleasurable.

When they were older, I learned that there are different learning styles, among them the visual and auditory ways. One of my daughters prefers auditory books (cassettes, CDs, DVDs), and we said, by all means. Now, she seems to be picking up a few books for her own reading pleasure, or for learning (her current interest is anything and everything about the Netherlands, as her boyfriend is Dutch).


Reading is fun. For me, I can pick up instant information by going to the internet, but I can’t get from the internet the same wonderful, warm and fuzzy feeling that I get by sitting on a comfortable sofa, propped up by soft pillows or snuggling with someone I love with a book of my choice.

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