I'm the kind of person who will take printouts and mark changes with a pen. It took me forever to start using 'track changes' to mark the changes I make to a document. It's undeniable: the computer has changed the way we function for ever. If typing on the keyboard can become writing, why is reading books better than reading on the iPad? Most parents fret that their kids aren't reading anymore, but perhaps you need to help make the idea more palatable to them.
Here are a few tips that might help:
Start 'em young
We know dads who've read to wombs, but you needn't start that young. Start out with baby books with big pictures at a year-plus, teaching words gradually. Soon, the babies will begin to recognise the alphabet. Practice an interactive bedtime story ritual from early on, encouraging your kids to read a little with you...
What's important is that your children read, not how they read. If Kindle is the only way to get the classics to them, you'll just have to make your peace with it. Don't restrict your kids to books. Focus on helping your child discover the joy of the written word. Falling in love with books will happen naturally once they develop the habit.
Accept their interests
Face it, no matter how much you want it, there's a chance your kids might not care a jot about your favourite authors or what you consider 'good reading'. Accept their interests and get them books on subjects of their interests. You might not get superheroes, but if that's all they care about, you need to get them the comics that will keep them glued for hours. It may not be the best source of knowledge and information, but the goal is to get them to start enjoying reading. Once their interests diversify, the subject matter will take care of itself.
Make it a treat
Rahul and Chetna Mehrotra have adopted a unique approach to literature. Right from childhood, they've used a story as a reward for good behaviour. So every time their child Parth ate his greens or put away his books without being told, he was rewarded with a story. As Parth grew, his parents bought him books for every little achievement. For Parth, books became a medal. And today, at 12, he is a voracious reader with his own corner in his parents' library.
Set up a special area
Parth is fiercely proud of his little corner in the library. It has his bean bag and his own little rack. If space permits it, make a small reading area in your children's room, where they can proudly display their literature. It might also make the idea of books more appealing to the gadget-crazy generation that today's kids belong to.
Lead by example
As is true for everything else, teach your kids to read by example. Your kids are always imitating you consciously or subconsciously. If you're glued to TV yourself, your child is hardly going to pay attention to books. But if they see you curled up on the sofa, absorbed in a book, often enough, they're likely to try it themselves.
Everyone's favourite advice for everything: TALK. But these conversations can actually be fun. If you and your husband make it a point to discuss books at the dinner table, your children will be tempted to read and contribute to the conversations. But make sure that your kids don't feel left out. If, for example, you're discussing Pride and Prejudice, pepper the conversation with your favourite bits, giving them a gist of the story. Conversely, make sure you read some of your kids' favourites as well. If you make the effort to broaden your horizon, they will too.
For a list of recommended books for young kids, go to our next story. Have a book to recommend or a story your child doesn't tire of re-reading? Do tell! Comment here or write to email@example.com.