The best way to learn a language is to speak and read. The best way to attain knowledge is to read. The best way to indulge in vivid imagination (imagination = creativity) is to read too.
Books are real, kids can touch them and parents can spend bonding time with kids by reading to them. I would not encourage kids to read e-books since e-books cannot be touched and flipped. And staring into the screen for long hours will stress the little eyes. I would rather my kids being read to by me than to be read to by the iphone. I am sure I can do a far better job than technology read-out-loud. I started reading to my kids since I was pregnant with them and till now, I still read to my soon-to-be 5-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl. They are still loving it!
How I read to my children:
- Cover page – Read the title, author, illustrator. They will learn to appreciate the people behind the wonderful making of the book.
- Pictures – For the first few times, linger on the picture page for a longer time for the kids to interpret the pictures. Their detailed observation of the pictures often stun me, as adults would not be bothered about how many mice appeared in the book of Goldilocks or whether Cleo has a bow on her head in Clifford stories.
- Add in words on your own and describe what you can see in the illustration.
- Ask questions about what comes next, take their answers seriously, there is no right or wrong answers!
- Never read in a monotone way! Read in a MELODIC way, with pitching and be immensed in the story to enact the expressions in the story. Get them excited or in suspense to make the stories interesting.
Choosing a book:
- BABIES – Big board books with texture and pop-ups, my kids’ favourites are “That’s not my…” series by Fiona Watt and cloth books with a mirror in front. Too bad, there are very few Chinese Big Board Books around
- TODDLERS – Ladybird Classic series – Level 1 books, like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. I love Ladybird books because they repeat words and lines on many pages to reinforce simple words and sentences for early readers. Another hit with my kids is “The very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle. And don’t forget to read simple Chinese books to kids from young.
- 2-4 YEARS OLD- Ladybird Classic series – Level 2 books, like “The Gingerbread Man” and Clifford The Big Red Dog series, Chinese books with moral stories, fairy tales and The Berenstain Bear series. The Berenstain Bear series revolve much in moral and daily routines and happenings for young families and they are depicted in good humour. However, the stories may be a bit lengthy even though they do have simple “I can read” series. For lengthy stories, you may have to summarize as you read along for the initial few times just to catch the children’s attention and interest.
- 5-7 YEARS OLD- Ladybird Classic series – Level 3&4 books like “The Wizard of Oz” and The Berenstain Bear series.
- PICTURE BOOKS WITH NO WORDS – I love these stories without words! It really is up to the imagination of the reader to interpret the story and follow what comes next. One good picture book without words is “The Chicken Thief” by Beatrice Rodriguez. You can borrow this book from the community library. It has an unexpected and interesting twist to the end of the story.
Ways to encourage reading:
- Bedtime reading should be included in the Bedtime routine from birth.
- Read to your children frequently and read to them even when they are capable of reading on their own. My 7-year-old girl still loves and enjoys being read to her.
- Allow them to choose which books to read. My kids are good negotiators when it comes to the number of books to be read for the night.
- Go to the library often and borrow books.
- Go to the bookstores often and buy books occasionally. That shows how you treasure books enough to buy and keep them, besides, it helps to have a mini library at home.
- Leave books around the house casually. This is to encourage kids to pick them up when they walk by or have nothing to do.
- Let the kids see you read books and newspapers, be a good role model! (you may refer to my earlier post “Why it is important to be YOURSELF in front of the kids” and that will probably give you a good excuse to indulge in some “me” time)
- Read a wide variety of books to your kids. My son YH loves the animal encyclopedia and especially books on gorillas, apes and dinosaurs.
- Have a book in the car (books with large prints so as not to stress the eyes) or in your bag while travelling.
- Be ready to read the same book a hundred times to your kids. They simply love the familiarity of the story and knowing what comes next.