Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reading: The One Skill Your Child Really Needs


Family is the one big blessing we have in this world, and I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful family. But, as every parent knows, it’s never plain sailing. Helping your children grow into confident and well-rounded people can mean some conflict on occasion, and trying to get your children to do certain things that you know will be for their own good can be a big challenge. The one challenge every parent can empathize with is getting their children to eat well, but what about certain skills that your child needs? Reading is something we all learn how to do, but we seldom use it to our benefit, and many kids treat reading as something they have to do for school, instead of it being a regular part of their lives. We live in an age of computers and smartphones, and although we have much more access to useful information, we don’t make the most of this information. Why is this? Because we have taken information for granted. We expect to have millions of pieces of information at our fingertips, so the task of seeking out a fact, or trekking to the library to do research is something that no child needs to do anymore. I'm not saying that the internet is a bad thing, far from it! But I believe that we need to teach our children the value of the information that is at their fingertips. How can we get our children to read more? And not just read more but learn from what they are reading.
Their age is the defining factor at this point. There are probably so many children’s books lying around your house, baby books, picture books, and so on. But did you take the time to read to your child when they were younger? Health specialists talk about the various benefits of reading to your child from birth because it helps their brain development, and it will encourage them to speak. Not only does it instill so many great skills in your child, but the fact that you are reading to them will strengthen your relationship. It doesn’t seem to happen as much now, but reading to your children should be part of the bedtime routine. Instead, we put our kids to bed and rush back to our phones. If you spend a lot of time on your phone, you might have seen the sign a nursery in Texas put up telling parents to get off their phone when picking their kids up. Reading to your child needs to be part of the whole bedtime ritual. Once you have made reading a part of their lives, you need to keep that up. It’s much harder when they're older because maybe they would rather play or go on their Xbox, and that is another battle to face. It’s at this point you need to be a bit more creative in how you get books into their lives. The great thing that JK Rowling did with the Harry Potter series is to actually get kids reading. How did she do that? She made the stories interesting and compelling!


So if you want your children to read, what things are they interested in? If you’re trying to get them to read Oliver Twist and they couldn’t care less, then it’s an uphill battle. Look at your child’s hobbies. If they are into martial arts, then get them a biography on Bruce Lee; if they are really into music get them a book of essays on bands. That is a point when it comes to teenagers going through phases when it comes to music. So many musicians use literature as their touchstones, from Bob Dylan to Led Zeppelin and even the newer artists like Kendrick Lamar. And if your child really is into a band or artist, then they will naturally start to get influenced by their favorite bands’ literature choices. And while getting them to read their first book may be a challenge, it opens up their world so much more. So, for example, if they loved the Lord Of The Rings movies and from there, they went to the books and loved them, they may want to develop a love for fantasy novels, and then progress further into other areas of fantasy, such as dark fantasy. Here are 10 amazing books that feature dark fantasy for reference. But as they start to develop a taste for a certain genre, they will naturally seek out similar stuff. And you’ve got them hooked.
Another reason children don’t tend to read now as much as they used to is because there are too many formats of entertainment now. The internet means that children can spend hours watching funny videos instead of getting their nose in a book. There were famous people who were big readers when they were children because they had nothing else to do. The actor Richard Burton famously read a book a day in his youth, and presumably, that was because he had nothing else to do. There were no TVs back then! So your option could be to simply relegate the TV to the living room, and the computer for specific times of day, therefore if they want to entertain themselves, then they will have to read. For some reason, reading is a skill that has got a bad rap, and I think it’s because most children associate reading with school, and so it’s associated with something they have to do, rather than want to do. There are people that think the quality of the literature is more important than the actual fact that they are reading, but if you get them reading something they enjoy they will naturally seek out the next book, and from there they will discover favorite authors and favorite genres. We all have our favorite books, and I bet they aren’t the ones you had to read in school! So, by getting them on the reading bandwagon, you are setting them up for life with one of the best and most rewarding habits.

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