If it's anything that 2020 has afforded me, it was to have more time for reading and finding that comfort and fascination of a private world, to be lost in a story, locked away from reality for just a moment in time.
I'm so glad that my kids are readers and it was not by coincidence that they too love a good book, but through a deliberate effort to schedule time for it and set up the environment to make reading conducive. "I'm at the good part!" is a common refrain when I call my daughter to come for dinner, which usually means I have to give her a few more minutes for her to complete the scene or chapter.
In How to Raise A Reader, Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, the editors of The New York Times Book Review, talk about the role of parents in raising readers. "School is where children learn that they have to read. Home is where kids learn to read because they want to... So let's think about the long-term project of raising a reader not as an obligation but as an opportunity to bring some wonderful things into your child's and family's life. The parent's part in encouraging a reader is in many ways more interesting, joyful, and open-ended than the school's part of the project, which is focused on things like phonics, assessments, and benchmarks."
Over the last few years, I've met parents at public storytelling sessions. Most, thankfully, are enthused for their children to meet a 'real life author', purchase a book or at least express support for your work. But there are always those who say "My child doesn't read", "My child is too young to read", "He won't sit still long enough" and find the whole endeavour pointless. They seem to have given up at fostering the love of reading when the child is merely a toddler or they think it can be put off when the child is older.
Recently, a friend of mine, Assoc Prof Loh Chin Ee, invited me to be a guest on her educational podcast series, How We Read. The podcast episodes cover various topics like whether reading on print vs. on digital has an impact on the way we read, the neuroscience behind a child’s reading journey, as well as how comics are produced in Singapore.
In the first episode, The Bedtime Story, the ritual of reading together with your child is discussed (I'm featured in this episode!).
Assoc Prof Loh says: “[The bedtime story] is really a proxy for dedicating time to read with a child. It represents a time of intimacy and bonding over a good story. It’s an occasion for the parent to teach the child how to read by role modelling what it means to read. Children learn how to handle a book from handling it with others.”
If you're a new parent, I hope you institute the bedtime story in your child's routine.
For some it's easier said than done. Lower income families or children with dyslexia have other hurdles to overcome before a love for reading can be fostered. I write a little about that in the context of the podcast series here.
For more information about the podcast series visit:
Why bedtime stories are so important to helping our children have a headstart in life
You can access the HWR Podcast from Omny or any podcast platform such as iTunes and Spotify. The first episode launched today, and each week there will be a new episode.