“I just can’t get Samarth to sit down and read,” Sheila groaned to me the other day. “I’ve tried so many different ways to motivate him. You only tell me what to do, na!” A common complaint of parents these days. With so many different shows on TV, video games, technology distractions, classes and workshops to attend — somehow we all seem to have forgotten reading. Gone are the days when the entire family would be sprawled out on couches and rugs with a book in hand whiling away a lazy, Sunday afternoon. No one knows how to while-away time anymore. In fact, I don’t think anyone knows how to sprawl anymore, either!
Here’s a suggestion. Every day this summer set aside 30 minutes to while-away some time with a book. For the uninitiated, here’s how you do it :-
Pick a favourite spot. Go on. Get your child(ren) and together pick a spot. Your bed? (we suggest making it first — but no one’s checking — unmade works just as well!), the living room carpet? the balcony? (mornings are still pretty cool in Bangalore). Send us your suggestions — we’d love to hear what you picked — get creative!
Now pick a book each. Yes, Sheila. If you want Samarth to read, you’re going to have to sit down and model it for him! For starters, pick an easy one not a classic (we have an age appropriate list below — or just pick something you loved as a child). Have a reluctant reader? Why not read aloud to him/her? Or take turns reading. I highly recommend it! I have a 19 year old and a 16 year old and we still read aloud all the time! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
Set your timer for 30 minutes on the phone, and put it in airplane mode.
Read. Talk. Discuss.
Praise. (Quick tip:- Praise your child’s reading ability, voice, tempo, knowledge. Whatever! I firmly believe praise is the best encouragement to continue).
“So how do we make reading a fun activity and not a chore?” Sheila asked me despondently after my long lecture. Her reluctance was obvious, so, I’m not surprised Samarth was resisting. First of all, we have to cultivate this love ourselves. It’s not something that has to be ticked off a list, or because Rohit reads 1 book a day, my son should too! But speaking of ticking off on a list — maybe we could make it fun. Have a little reading notebook or chart near that favourite reading spot. Reward them with stars or stickers each time they complete a chapter. 10 stars could be redeemed for ice cream, 20 for a pizza or burger, 30 for a movie? If daily motivation is needed — how about a swim right after reading, and poolside cucumber sandwiches? Make these plans and rewards together. What fun it’ll be!
Before you know it, the timer will go off — and your 30 minutes for the day will be done! By the end of summer, we promise you no one will check the timer. In fact, many might decide to “just complete this chapter” before shutting the book. And, in a month and a half, you’ll have cultivated a fantastic habit all while whiling away and sprawling. Kudos! Do pat yourself on the back for us!
And, don’t forget to let us know what you think.
Summer Reading List
These age groups are not set in stone. As long as your child is reading — don’t be too concerned about what. Remember, by Age 9 — our recommendation is that they are comfortable with chapter books and slightly complex story lines.
5–7 Years Old
(we use these in our Story classes and our little ones just LOVE them!)
(We all love Sudha Murty’s books — such a simple yet powerful story teller!)
10–12 years old
There are children that devour the Harry Potter series at 9, and others that need to wait until they’re closer to 11. It doesn’t matter. What matters is — they have a book in hand.
It would be great if they have read the Enid Blytons by Age 10–11.
ENID BLYTON (An author that has shaped two maybe three generations of readers in my family! Any book of hers would be a winner! Here are a few favourites). I’ve linked to the entire set — but obviously buy one first and if your child enjoys the characters and stories then buy the set. 🙂
A Series of Unfortunate Events — Lemony Snicket (This is a series about the Baudelaire orphans, who just can’t seem to catch a break, and their adventures. They’re aimed at kids who “get” satire and are not too affected by all the unfortunate events that these kids face. No happy ending either — so be forewarned. However, the writing is excellent and the vocabulary phenomenal. Once your child gets hooked — you’ll never have to beg him/her to read again!)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series (read this in conjunction with other books. These are more “fun” cartoon style books that could conceivably be used as starter reading)
The Gita for Children — Roopa Pai (a great book to read aloud to your kids. My daughter went away to college in the middle of the read aloud — and I had to actually record the chapters and WhatsApp them to her. It’s addictive and a great way to stay in touch! )
What Young India Wants — Chetan Bhagat (I think the other Chetan Bhagat books are fine for this age group too. Nothing great in terms of vocabulary or literature — but he has a nice writing style, very India-centric references and good stories. I firmly believe that if you see someone that looks like you succeeding in a profession, it’s easier to dream about that profession for yourself. Inclusion matters. That’s why I have included books by Indian authors here — of course I’d never recommend them if they weren’t good reads)
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