Thursday, March 13, 2008

To raise a reader

How do we get our children to read? No doubt it is a common desire of parents. Of course the school that the child attends has a huge influence on the child. But we may or may not have the money, the connection, or the luck of the draw to get our children into the desired school. In any case I believe we should not relay totally on the school. The education of our children is too important to entrust completely to others.

I think we should start reading to our children while they are still babies. Before they can read, or speak, or even sit up properly, we can start reading to them. There are tons of colorful, toy-like books for that purpose. And it is so enjoyable that parents who don’t do it are really missing a lot.

When they start to talk and recognize words, we can read with them. When they start to read on their own. Our job is not done. We have to read alongside them. Don’t ever stop.

Some parents complain that their children used to be readers. But somehow, at some point in time the children just stop. Perhaps they discovered television, or computer games, or other distractions. Of course it can happen anytime in a person’s life. But the longer the children have been reading, the less likely it is that they will suddenly just stop.

We canot just buy them books and tell them to read. What are they to think when they are told to read, while their parents watch television, play mahjong, bet on horses and soccer, go to canto-pop concerts, or just gossip? It would be obvious to them that reading is not as important or enjoyable as they are told. Otherwise, why wouldn’t their parents do it?

I believe the best way to raise a reader is to be one myself. It is hard, it is time consuming, and it is demanding. But I think it is the best investment that we can make in our children. And it really is enjoyable in itself.


Anonymous said...

Let me let you in to a little secret: this guy is talking from experience. The whole business of raising a reader isn't so hard when you are already an avid reader; and a proud family tradition goes on. But don't panic: old dogs are actually teachable!

StephenC said...

Advice to young parents, or couples thinking of having children: strike while the iron is hot.

Read to them while they are very small - they don't know any better and won't resist! Actually they love it, and you will too.

gweipo said...

And not only read to them when they're young, but keep on doing so even when they can read for themselves by themselves. It allows a lot of questions and discussions...