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5 point plan on raising a reader! 

By Umar Trife Wamboze

A child that can read and write is more often than not every African parent’s pride. It is not a rare occasion to hear a mother boast among her friends about how well her son or daughter can read– often putting emphasis on the difficulty and complexity of the things their child reads (even when they half understand what it is, well, their child reads). The entire process of a child’s development is no mean feat. From the time they learn how to sing the alphabet, write the ABC, and ably read the illustrated version of Robin Hood or Cinderella, it is a journey with several turns. Thus in this article, I will show you, in five steps, how to ensure your child grows accustomed to the most important lifestyle habit, reading. Let’s dig in. 

Read to and with your child.

There’s no starter age for this. You can start as soon as they are born. According to an article in the New York Times, the number of words an infant was exposed to had a direct impact on their language development and literacy. The trick is to read it aloud, read daily and read to them from the time they are infants. The fringe benefit is that you have an allowance to taste and preference since the baby won’t complain about your choice of books. A daily reading session of 15 minutes will do the trick. 

Sing rhymes and songs, recite poems along with them.

In most cases children are already going through a lot of pressure to learn how to read at school. As such, it is important that parents don’t turn their reading sessions into homeschooling classes. What better way to do this than colouring these moments with some child tunes. It’s okay to go from singing Jack and Jill together with them to having them perform for you the alphabet. Poems and rhymes are also a good treat for this purpose. 

Visit libraries and reading spaces.

Having few libraries and reading spaces or none in your locality should not stop your child from reading. You can actually create the reading spaces at home! Reserve a room, or corner in the house, buy as many locally relevant books as you can get your hands on and start off your child’s reading journey. For this purpose, I believe the content in our catalogue of children’s books will come in handy. Check the link to Buy a Book. 

Be your child’s role model.

If you want to raise a reader, be a reader. It is often said that children learn more from what you are than what you teach. I bet parents that have been blessed to walk in on their children playing home can attest to this. So what better way to make them read than being a reader yourself. 

Become intentional about creating a habit of reading daily and encourage them to read with you. This is not only an opportunity to monitor your child’s reading but also creating a bond between both of you. Have conversations about the books they are reading and compare them to things within the child’s reach of reality. Make reading a family hang-out. 

Avoid giving your child an e-reader.

This is especially hard now that we are in an era of smartphone for every child. However, studies have shown that people, especially children, absorb and retain stories better when they read them in print. Besides the fact that most electronic gadgets are multi-tasking, the chances that a child’s concentration will be taxed are quite high. 

Lastly, parents ought to develop a culture of buying books. Make it a habit to come home with a comic, novel, reader, classics among others. Books can be toys too! And children being the collector they are, will always love to keep a good collection of books. Let’s nurture the next generation of readers together.