Written by: Julie Provencher
Some people, very simply, love winter! For them, the snowy weather, the snowshoe trails, the red cheeks and the crackle of an open fireplace are all moments of pure bliss! If you asked them to share their feeling on this, they would tell you about their childhood memories, and exactly what it was that these moments meant to them. These people have established an emotional connection with these moments and have come to appreciate winter.
Does the same apply for a young child toward reading? Of course it does! It would thus be interesting to know that, every single day, and long before his early school days, the toddler establishes emotional ties with books. With the help of those around him, the child learns to enjoy reading, even if he does not yet have the ability to read on his own. He is sensitive to the atmosphere, the warmth of the interactions, the laughs and the comfort that come from reading. Along the way, he follows and stores up memories related to the intimacy of reading with his parents and those around him.
Pleasant memories and reading experiences will prompt the child to seek opportunities to be exposed to written language. On the other hand, if he associates this activity with unpleasant feelings, there is a risk he may avoid reading anything as much as he possibly can. I like to think that we ― the parents ― have tremendous power over the development of an emotional tie between our children and books, and that our attitude and actions influence our little ones.
I would like to share with you the daily reading tips and tricks I use to slowly knit together my children and the intimacy of reading.
The quality of the child’s emotional bond with his parents plays a significant role on the different forms of learning. On Halloween, I like to read slightly spooky books to comfort my children. I also like to choose amusing books to hear them laugh, or simply kiss them on the forehead before turning the page. The warmth of the interactions that consolidate around reading moments and our encouragement incite our children to be participants, ask questions and take up the challenge of reading alone. The closer the bond, the more likely children are to feel confident. This positive connection also has the effect of increasing the frequency of leisure reading and boosting children's motivation for learning to read.
A bedtime routine is a pleasant moment on its own because reading is part of it every night. However, I like to create an atmosphere in the process! Sometimes, reading takes place with dimmed lights. On certain occasions, I whisper the story or take out the candles (be cautious!). At other times, I offer a complementary snack as part of the reading period (e.g. a hot chocolate). I also like to enjoy balcony life while reading with my children in the sun. What better way to say, "I love you!" than with a few minutes of reading with and for them? In addition to providing children with a sense of self-worth, this approach dignifies the importance of reading, and ultimately, strengthens the emotional connection. Eventually, children look at reading as a fun-filled activity and develop a positive attitude towards these moments.
In day to day living, I enjoy discovering what my children like, be it their favourite animal or sport, a country they might like to visit, an invention that fascinates them, or simply a current event that had their attention. I provide them with reading material that reflects their tastes and interests. Without even realizing it, my children use reading to secure their needs for learning on topics of interest. Reading then takes on all its meaning as it provides the information they need. An invisible link is thus established between my children and books.
It’s not just us parents who can build a connection between children and books. Do you recall receiving an email or Facebook comment that made you happy? It’s always nice when someone drops a line. My children receive emails from their grandparents, and I can’t emphasize enough their eagerness to read these. I describe the act of communicating with someone in writing as providing readings that are truly motivating. Developing an emotional tie between children and books is a lot about involving friends and relatives in creating reading moments. My son recently received an invitation from his godmother to go to the library and pick a book! What a wonderful way to get your children interested in reading. In the case of a teenager, what better way to achieve this goal than by sending him an interesting article via social networking in order to create discussions with him?
In conclusion, let’s laugh, question things and enjoy reading to our children while they're young. And when they grow up, let’s continue discovering the world, having discussions and reflecting on topics with them, bearing in mind that reading must remain a useful, pleasant and entertaining activity!
Check out my new book (available in all good bookstores) for more reading tips and tricks.
10 façons de rendre la lecture intéressante (French only)
Comment initier votre enfant à la lecture (French only)
Le site de référence Pouvoirdelire qui informe sur l’éveil et l’apprentissage de la lecture (French only)