7  tips (and tricks) to raising a reader

Ok so we (we being momma and two kids, dad’s a different breed) are mostly a disorganised mess, last minute workers and need-to-be-kicked-in-the-butt-to exercise gang. But if there is one thing we do well it is reading. My mother jokes that I am a “kanjoos” and look for a sale on everything, except if it is a book. And yes it may be true.. I have been on a mission to make my kids (and any other mother’s who will let me) completely be head over heels in love with reading.

My older one being fairly precocious, it was not surprising to many that she would be found drowned in a book, in the bus, in the garden, at weddings and in the bathroom!! But my younger one, he is the naughty one, not able to sit still, trying to be a mini hanuman in the bus and fidgeting restlessly in the class..when this boy had a book in his hand, the rest of the world ceased to exist..So how did you get him to read, they asked?..

I pondered a while.. and here is my list of 7 tips and tricks..

  1. Read everyday, anything and everywhere…When they were kids, and beginning reading, I did not have a Dolch list of sight words. I did not go the phonics route. We simply read everything in sight. So Building names, Road name boards, movie names on Billboards, stuff written on the cereal boxes and chips packets and chocolate wrappers.. were all reading practice. Both kids today will leave with a book bag everywhere they go!
  1. Start with books that interest them…With my older one, it was Dora books all the way. My son on the other hand was fascinated by different things around him rather than characters. He always claimed to be a scientist, so I scoured Amazon and chanced upon the Cudweed series. CaptureWhen volcano and the red lava was his current favorite when he saw a Geronimo Stilton titled “Help I ‘m in hot lava”. I am not a huge fan of the “Ënormouse” and “holey cheese” distortions. But that was enough for him to get hooked and move on to larger chapter books. I still have to consciously hold back my crestfallen look when my daughter doesn’t adore “Mallory Tower” series and my look of utter disgust at “diary of a wimpy Kid” but Hey.. they never say we hate reading! ( gasp!)
  2. Read books that are deliriously funny and ludicrous….Every book doesn’t have to for learning or a moral. Dr Suess’s rhymes, Gajapati Kulpati and his Acchoo’s. 73_page2Luckily in today’s world of Amazon and Flipkart, we are simply spoilt for choice.
    Not sure what to pick, here is  a  #100bookspact on facebook started by two book crazy moms. fabulous books with pictures and reviews!!. My wishlist has grown significantly..sigh..
  1. Read Aloud with them, no matter what the age..Many of us read to the very young.. and when they are into picture books. But once the kids start reading independently, we stop reading to them. Read aloud for fun with exaggerated dramatics, even an old picture book once in a while. Those cozy snuggles and cuddles while reading the book build awesome memories that remain with the child everytime he opens the book.
    Also at every stage when the kid moves from basic reading to chapter books, from chapter books to those without any pictures, or to open a genre they haven’t read before, reading along with them gives them a loving nudge to explore more.
  1. Do more with the book than just read..Create a game or craft, copy the artwork, read about the author, pretend play or use a catch phrase with a knowing “wink”. Make a new adventure or a sequel to the story or change the ending. For slightly older kids.. watch a movie based on the book, a book review and compare it with some other book, analyse the characters, look at it from a different point of view (Like Revolting Rhymes). (Oh..The possibilities.. these better find place in the next blog).  Psst! Oh this means you have read the book too!
  1. Once hooked, barter.. Once they really crave to own that book, make deals to expose them to rich variety. If you want to buy that Diary of a Wimpy kid, pick one from this set also. See our book hauls for my 6 year old and 10 year from our recent book fair after Report Day. Now they themselves pick a variety so they can get what they want J20151015_123619 (1)   20151015_123454 (2)
  1. And the meanest trick in my book..When there is that one book you want them to read, but they won’t. I encountered this with Swami and Friends. I was besotted with getting my older one to read it. She had flipped a couple of pages and was not crazy about it. So I took the book on one of our long Mumbai-Poona drives and started reading it out in the car, with all the drama and eloquence I could muster. As slowly Swami and Pati and Mani and the school teachers began to take root in her mind, I stopped.. Bang in the middle of the chapter.. “Cough, Cough, My throat is too dry.. now later”. But of course, she kept reading it ..non stop until she finished it. Not only that, my hubby who was also listening, was also forced to finish the book J




  1. The bread winner (dad) is surely not a different breed always. I have three lovely daughters and I have brought them up the same way. I am a Mom, the best friend and adviser to them at all times. Nice read.


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