Dubai, United Arab Emirates - 08, August 2019: For most parents, summer's lengthy days and slower pace, lends itself well for children to be lost in the pleasure of imaginative books. In reality the kids tend to try and avoid summer reading, considering it to be ‘homework.'
Michelle Forbes, Principal, GEMS Al Barsha National School for Girls shares some insightful tips on how to encourage children to head to the bookshelf or download material via a reading app, to become engrossed in stories beyond gaming and television.
1. Be a reading role model
Children tend to take cues from adults. Parents need not be avid readers themselves, only a simple effort is required to pick up a book so that younger and impressionable family members are seen reading daily. Parents might choose to read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel – the content itself is not what matters, it is the example set in how reading can be something that is common practice around the house. Show interest and share information about the books being read. Talk about favourite parts in the storyline or use images to bring the material to life if a conversation begins.
2. Surround your children with reading material
Surrounding children with books at an early age gets them hooked on reading. Leave them around the house, even on the floor or on a shelf in the bathroom, and this will draw positive attention to them as they will be in plain sight. With so many digital games and electronic devices battling for the sights of today's youth, it's important to give the young every opportunity where possible to explore the wonders of the written world. An excellent tactic to keep books in mind is to encourage a daughter or son to take a book with them whenever they go out, so they always have something to fill the time when they are unoccupied, which doesn't traditionally involve a screen.
3. Help bring books to life
Finding book-inspired activities to do enlivens the experience of reading books. Before taking children to a local zoo or aquarium, research what animals will be there and then find books or stories about those animals. Read a book about camping and then actually go camping or read a book about baking and take a class together. Make the story come to life with real-life experiences. At GEMS Education, schools celebrate World Book Day where children are encouraged to dress as their favourite book character. This activity is part of the school's annual push to inspire students to read more.
4. Start a book club
If there is spare time during the week and hosting a few reading sessions sounds like a great idea, then why not start a book club with other families in the neighbourhood or via an educational platform. Encourage the young to read short stories out loud to each other. The more memorable and fun the sessions are, the more excited children will become about getting involved on a regular basis. Honour and incentivise the most active reader with free movies tickets or a new collection of books, failing these – sometimes delicious food and sweet treats are enough to encourage ongoing commitment.
5. Create a cosy reading corner
Create a comfortable reading area that is private and fun where children can escape into a world of reading. Those little nooks and crannies in the house can be the perfect place to hunker down with a book or two for children. Stack up the area with all genres of books alongside fluffy pillows, throw rugs and lamps. Hang book posters, fairy lights and bonus points to create a literary design theme.