I've always been an avid reader, and wherever I go, a book goes with me in my bag. When my son was born, I made a pact with myself that he would grow up to be a book lover, too.
Reading, in my opinion, is associated with knowledge, and I certainly want my son to have a passion for learning through books.
When he was a baby, I had colourful bathtub books, but my son was not very interested. I waited a little longer.
When he turned one, I tried again with storybooks that look like they should be suitable for his age. To my surprise, he still didn't express any interest and walked away. Now, at two years old, I am still struggling when it comes to reading him a bedtime story.
I started to feel worried. What if he doesn't like books? What is he going to do when he goes to school? Am I doing something wrong?
I recently had a chance to speak to Chamapat Sitthiamnuay, managing director of Gymboree, a firm with expertise in early childhood development, and I asked her for advice regarding this matter. She said that it is quite normal for a two-year-old to lose interest in something after five to 10 minutes.
Getting through a few pages at a time is good enough for children this age. She pointed out that it is possible I chose the wrong books for him, and that age-appropriate books are hard to find in Thailand, especially in Thai.
So, apparently, just because a book has the "Suitable for children aged 2+" label printed on it doesn't mean a child of that age will be attracted to it.
The Gymboree owner said that for younger children, books should have different textures to touch, and the images should look real, not cartoonish.
It can be difficult for young children to understand cartoon images, because they don't see these things in real life, so they might not be interested.
She also suggested books with rhyming, as they can help with children's phonological awareness. The tone of voice used when reading out loud should also be fun, not monotonous.
The words in the book should be relevant to their understanding level, and the sentences should be as short and concise as possible.
Reading together is the best family activity. Chamapat said there's no better chance to bond than when reading a story to a kid sitting your lap. However, if the child does not cooperate, pushing it can result in a negative attitude towards books and reading.
She warned that parents should never say to their child: "You don't like to read! Why don't you read?" because this will make the child believe that he or she really doesn't like to read, when in reality the reason might be something else. Also, instead of saying: "You will be stupid if you don't read," try: "You will be even smarter if you read."
Reading is a wonderful activity and a good habit in the long run, but forcing them to read will not be successful.
Instead, create an environment for reading by placing books around the house. Try to find books that match the child's interest to convince him or her that books contain interesting things.
Last but not least, no child will cooperate every time when it comes to reading, because at this age, it is much more fun for them to be on the move. If a child is not in the mood to read, don't stress about it. To encourage your child to love reading, you have to set a good example and provide the right support.
Since you are still reading this very last paragraph, I am going to assume you, to a certain extent, find reading a useful habit. If you're having the same problem I have, hang in there and keep at it. They say an apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and each apple falls at a different time because it may be held by a different strength of branch.
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer