Sometimes, as children grow up, reading becomes less a part of their lives. If they are school aged children, they tend to read only for academic purposes. Reading as a form of recreation and entertainment is minimal and sadly at times, absent altogether. But this shouldn’t be so. Most of the time, children simply need to be motivated enough to enjoy reading. Once they enjoy reading as an activity, it can become a natural part of everyday living.
Recently I shared the following tips with a parent for getting her 9-year-old son motivated to read:
– Start off by reading aloud to your child. Reading aloud is not only for very young, it can be done and is just as beneficial for older children. One parent even read to his almost adult children every evening! Let your child sit with you so that he can see the text and pictures, if any. In this way your child doesn’t have to expend the effort to read on his own but will benefit from listening to you. He will learn new words, follow the development of a plot, understand expression and intonation of voice all just by listening as you read to him. Use the opportunity to discuss the meaning of any new words you come across (keep a dictionary nearby for checking the meaning of new words while you read). If possible set aside some time every day to read aloud to him, even if it is just 10 minutes. Bedtimes are usually a good time for reading aloud to your child.
There are many books out there available that make great read-alouds for a 9-year-old. Some Islamic oriented books are: The Invincible Abdullah series by Uthman Hutchinson. This is an adventure story that could be read aloud a chapter at a time every day/night. Also by the same author are In Anger and The New Kid (which are the last two books in the “American Family Series“, short stories for ages 6 – 11). An easy read is the chapter book, Umar and the bully by Shabana Mir. While, Ahmad Deen and the Curse of the Aztec warrior by Yahiya Emerick is great as well. In terms of general fiction, great read alouds are Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate factory by Roald Dahl. Poems too, are great for reading aloud. Islamic collections of poems include Muslim poems for children by Mymona Hendriks and Muslim child by Rukhsana Khan includes several poems along with short stories. Any general collection of poems by Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein are great.
– If you allow your child to watch television or DVDs, then you can motivate him to read by allowing him to view a movie based on a book only after he has read the book. After he has read the book and watched the movie, talk about how characters are portrayed and how plots develop in different media. There are many books made into movies but some good ones are Stuart Little by E. B. White, The Borrowers by Mary Norton and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (the old version).
– Subscribe to magazines for him to read. Magazines are great for children since without realizing they become informed while reading. Moreover, the arrival of something new in the mail each month just for him will make him feel special.
There are a few Islamic children’s magazine available online such as Muslim Kids Journal and Truths for Kids. General print magazine include Highlights (stories and puzzles); and Cobblestone Publishers which produce several magazines for various age groups in science, literature, history and cultures.
– Take your child to the library to browse and see what takes his interest. If he finds something he likes, then get a library card (call ahead so that you walk with the required documents, if any, for becoming a member) and let him borrow it.
– Sometimes you may find that your child’s interest in non-fiction books is greater than that for fiction. Books about animals, plants, space, machines or any other subject provide children with lots of information as well as develop his reading ability. The “Tell Me About” series of books from Goodword provides information about Islam in an attractive way using facts, history, geography and science.
Whether it is comics or non-fiction, any reading a child does on his own, is still a step in a positive direction. This coupled with your reading aloud of some fiction would help him have an enjoyable reading experience, insha’Allah (God Willing).