Developing Reading Habits in Children

booksImportance of reading

The first revelation of the Quran was the first five verses of Surah Al- Alaq:

“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen (the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)). Has taught man that which he knew not.” ( Al-Alaq 96:1-5)

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” (Richard Steele)

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss)

Early bird catches the worm

Many parents are concerned about how to develop reading habits in their children and save them from unnecessary and time wasting activities. When your child is still a baby, there are some things you can do to help him or her learn! The first three years of life are very important in developing your child’s mind and abilities. Here are some ways to give your child an early and strong start.

1. Capture with picture

Picture reading can be started at a very young age i.e. from the age of 6-six months.

2. Bed time stories

Every night before sleeping, one of the parents can read a book to a child. Initially, the book should be pictorial. Then a book having few words, followed by a book with simple to complex sentences, as the child grows older.

3. Read and teach

Children are quite observant and love to explore everything around. So whenever they pick up a thing and if there is something written on it, adults can help them read in a playful manner.  Such as the text on jam jars, bottles of lotion, powder, water, packets of biscuits, rusk, chips, etc.

4. Read together

Every morning, when you read newspaper, make your child sit with you and play a game of reading headlines one by one. First you read one heading and then make the child read the other. Cuttings of interesting and knowledgeable sentences along with pictures can be pasted in a journal, as children love cut and paste activities.

5. Reading on-the-go

When going outside to Masjid, restaurant, shopping mall or any place, where you can utilize the time constructively, play reading games on way by reading the names of shops, banks, grocery stores, billboards, banners and slogans to enrich child’s vocabulary and observation.

6. Introduce reading etiquette

Establish a library area in the room. Encourage children to bring books, read them and put them back later on. Show them, how to hold and open a book, without spoiling or tearing it. Also, demonstrate as to how to turn the pages with care. Tell them about the different parts of a book in a conversational tone such as the cover, the end and the spine. When reading out a story, show them from where a sentence begins, in which direction do we read and how we read from top to bottom,  without expecting them to understand or remember straight away. Talk to them about different kinds of books like story books tell us stories, dictionaries give us the meanings of different words, encyclopedias tell us about so many different thing like animal, plants, buildings, history. This way you can introduce the Holy book Quran as well by telling them that this is the Book of Allah (swt) which is a complete and authentic guide for us, it is our Manual Book! It tells us how to spend our lives and most importantly Allah (swt) talks to us through it.

7.  Reader-friendly environment

Provide a print rich environment. Children learn to read fast by trying to make sense of the print they come across. We can support their efforts by labeling objects and areas in the house.

8. Flash cards rule

Making flash cards is a great help in learning letters and vocabulary. Prepare square cards with alphabets (any language you want your child to learn: Arabic, Urdu, English, etc.) and play matching games. Match the cards to objects and pictures which begin with a particular letter. Say the initial letter sound of objects and match it to the object that the letter represents. Begin with words that are personally meaningful for the child like his/her own name, name of family members, pets, favorite food and places. Keep an ear open for children’s interest and use words that are important for them to help them “read” letters of the alphabet and sight words.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” (Frederick Douglass)

Happy reading!