I have borrowed the above statement from a famous adage: “The early bird gets the worm”. We all learned this proverb in school. It applies to every walk of life. In case of children, this adage gains more significance as they cross various milestones in life. There are some habits or values which we want our kids to imbibe early. They are called modeled habits.
This is the main reason why we introduce certain habits early. For instance, right from brushing teeth twice a day to three meals a day (differs in every culture and community), we do this in front of our kids so that they imbibe it.
Similarly, book reading is also a modeled habit. If we read books or newspapers in front of our kids or set a routine of reading out newspapers or story books aloud (depending on the age), then it will ensure they will enjoy reading a lot more than we imagined.
Books are great to enhance imagination and also engage a child constructively. Most of the time kids these days would prefer the screen. But what a visual medium does, is to kill the imagination of a child. Whilst reading a book, the same child will be forced to imagine the scene, the plot, characters, seasons and sometimes even a piece of music mentioned by the author.
Reading helps in writing and developing other fine arts at a later stage. As you read each word, it gets embedded in the memory and helps in word-picture association at a later stage. The child will be able to do his projects effectively and without help. He will use these early associations (from his or her early reading sessions) during his learning sessions at home/or school. In effect, it helps in enriching vocabulary – pictorial, verbal and wriitten.
The earlier you take to reading, the more it will help during your early learning years as well as professional life. You cannot develop love for books overnight especially after you have become adults. If you notice some people around you say that they do not like books, one of the main reasons is that they were never encouraged to read when they were small or they were pushed into academics by parents saying reading books is a waste of time! I am sure most of you reading this will be able to relate to this.
So begin as early as possible – as early as when your child is curious to explore coloured flyers/newspapers/books or magazines. Do not kill that curiosity with your concern that they will tear the book to pieces. Slowly inculcate the habit by showing pictures, sitting with your children and eventually they will understand why books are lovely and they should not damage them.
Reading is a life-long gift that you can gift your child!