Have you heard of the 1000 books before kindergarten challenge? No, we didn’t try it because we were busy reading the same book for 1000 times before kindergarten 😆 If you’ve been reading aloud to your kids, I am sure you’ll share this experience of reading the same lines again and again from your child’s favourite book.
From scientific researches to moms’ experiences, we’ve heard enough of the benefits of reading aloud to little children. Apart from vocabulary building and literacy skills development, the fantasy world books take children to is something I’ve adored as a mother.
From 1st to 30th April, I will be writing one post a day on The Things that really matter to Children. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the complete list of posts in the series.
R for Reading Aloud: The World, Books take Children to!
It’s never too early to read aloud books to kids. You can start even when your baby is in the womb. In the first months and years, it may seem they aren’t going to understand what’s being read to them. But that isn’t the point we must look into. Reading books to children is beyond making them aware of a story or information. They are hearing new words; they are picking up on a rhythm; they are observing the colours, shapes and forms on the pictures; they are connecting to the emotions of our expressions; they are bonding with the characters in the books and most of all, they are cherishing the moments with us!
I sometimes read books to the children in our play area. To include more books in our reading sessions, one day I asked a little girl if she would like to bring books from her home. She replied that the only books she had were her school text books. Another little girl in another conversation mentioned that the only stories she had listened to from the elders at home were hare and the tortoise, crow and the water pot, the crocodile and monkey and a few more old tales of our times. Of course, these are golden stories of all times. But it made me think if these little children were deprived of listening to stories – stories that open their hearts and minds to new imaginative worlds.
From my last few years’ exploration of children’s books, here are some helpful thoughts and resources I’ve collected:
- 3-5 years is the age when reading aloud books and stories actively excite children. Make book reading a part of your daily rhythm. Bedtime book reading is the most common time of the day though you can fix a time which works for your family.
- Invest in books. And be generous about your investment. Your children will reap the benefits as they grow. In spite of an average collection of children’s books at home, I carry this regret that I could have added up more books in the past. Books are indeed addictive and one can never get enough of it, especially of those which can be completed in ten minutes but your children make it extend to an hour.
- Include a wide variety of themes, cultures and languages in your books. If your child is particularly interested in something, add more books on that theme. My boy used to be fond of vehicles, and so Lady Bird’s series of the Little vehicles books made a big hit with him.
Spend time to explore children’s books before you add books to your bookshelf. Some places to explore are:
#1 Children’s book publishers’ sites. Our favourite of Indian publishers are Tulika Books and Pratham Books. We like Tulika for more of an abstract kind of themes and stories while Pratham is our choice for good books in less price.
#2 Search online shopping sites.
#3 Visit local bookstores and libraries. And take your children too. Look for story telling sessions in your city, they are amusing to children.
#4 Participate in parenting forums and groups in Facebook. Some groups organize book swaps too.
#5 Find pre-loved books from stores in your city. Most of our books are pre-loved and they are as good as new.
#6 Check free online children’s book libraries. If you cannot get a lot of print books, you can make use of digital libraries through mobile, tab or laptop. You can find one of the best collection of Indian stories in StoryWeaver. My son loves to choose books to be read and to click on the rating at the end. You may want to try books of other countries from the list below:
Whatever is the source of the stories, introduce rich and extensive collection of stories to your children when they are still young. Recent publications by notable publishers in India include children books which help children deal with social and emotional issues like separation of parents, first day at school, death of a loved one, same-sex marriage and many others.
There’s a world full of stories for your children to relish in. Make time to explore with them. Even after they begin to read, continue reading aloud books to your children. And if it sounds interesting, create new stories for your children. They’ll remember them forever. Here are a few of my creations: