books and DNA

They say that a child who loves to read books is seldom bored. Parents today spare no expenses when it comes to developing the reading habit in their offspring. The rising popularity of reading groups for children is a testimony to this. Our genetic counsellors say that most bibliophile parents want to know if they have passed on their love of reading to their children. Even people who don’t love books ask about developing the reading habit in their children. As parents, they are focused on giving the gift of love for books to their children.

Book reading – nature or nurture

Research on the love of reading indicates a strong role of heredity here. When a parent is a bibliophile, the child is more likely to pick up the love for reading. With some encouragement, such children can develop this lifelong habit. On the other hand, extensive research on early childhood education and learning skills has shown that it is possible to nurture the love of reading in children.

What if the child doesn’t like reading books?

Considering the amount of screen time among kids today, it is not a surprise to see more children who prefer watching a movie to reading a book. How can parents encourage book reading among such children? What happens if a child is not interested in reading books, but parents try to force this habit? By buying only books and strictly enforcing book reading time on their kids? Can force help?
When we asked psychotherapist Aarathi Selvan of www.pauseforperspective.com, this is what she had to say, “How do adults take it when they are forced to do something? Why do we think kids would react any different? When we are forced to do something we rebel, resist, and resent. Why would be want our kids to feel rebellious, resistant and resentful towards reading! If parents love to read they cannot expect the child to love reading by forcing them to read. Of course, if you want your kids to hate reading then forcing it down their throat is a good way to go. The love for reading has to be inculcated with love. If parents become curious about the child’s interest and gently introduce reading about these interests in small ways and also being great examples themselves of avid readers then we are beginning to make a positive impact on our children with respect to leading them to read.”

Nurture love of books
Parents who have successfully inculcated the reading habit in their children offered some pointers:

  • Reading stories: Nothing encourages imagination like a bed time story. By reading a story, you are not only bonding with your child, but also developing natural curiosity, imagination, and love for books.
  • Reading groups: Some children pick up reading habits at groups sessions conducted by experts in early childhood education.
  • Finding the right genre: Not every child likes fairytales or even fiction. Experiment with many genres of books before giving up.
  • Limiting screen time: Before you give your child the latest tablet or your mobile to play with, understand that this could adversely impact many other habits, including book reading.
  • Encouraging other interests: Sometimes, a child can start reading because of interest in some other activity – look at the number of children who like sports-related books.
  • Reading: Practicing what we preach is often a good way to teach children. As parents, we are the role models for our children when it comes to habits, including book reading.

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