Oral storytelling may be the norm in India but, READING TO and WITH CHILDREN is far more beneficial, say experts. In India, reading from a story book is a relatively new and urban concept.
Recognising the fact that an important part of BRAIN DEVELOPMENT occurs within the 1st three years of a child’s life, and reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills. Doctors, in the US, are telling parents to read aloud to their infants — from birth, under a new policy by the American Academy of paediatrics.
Recent research reveals that synapses, the connection between neurons, are twice as plentiful at 24 months as in adulthood. So, reading at a very early age, “wire in” those synapses, so that babies get an early intellectual boost. It also increases the child’s vocabulary and general knowledge and creates a lifelong love of reading. There is also a bonding as the child feels emotionally connected with the reader, be it father, mother or grandparent.
It is important to understand what books to read at what age. Chetana Belagere, who runs CHOOBU BOOKU, talks about the three phases of reading and tips and tricks that’ll help grab their attention :
(1) READ ALOUD (from six months to about five years) —- This is a phase when a parent will read aloud, to the child, with various voice modulations. This, when done in an interesting manner, helps the child develop love towards the story and the habit of reading. As you share books with little ones, they learn that pages are read from top to bottom and that pictures and printed words are related to each other. Books are also memory stretchers. As children remember story lines, they begin to choose what they want to hear over and over. Look for books with handles or large plastic rings that they can clutch and carry around as precious possessions.
(2) READ ALONG (from three onwards) ——- This is when the child expects the parent to read the same book again and again. He or she will also want the parent to read with the same expressions and starts to guess the word from the pictures in the book. During reading, ask questions, then point out to new words and explain the meanings. Try all kinds of tones — showing surprise, whispering or drawing out vowels.
(3) READ ALONE (post 6 years) ——- This is the final phase. Once, the child knows the alphabet or the sounds of the language and starts understanding story concepts, then he/she is on his/ her own. Here, exposure is all your child needs, and they’ll enjoy reading, on their own, ALL THEIR LIVES.
With older children, talk about genre. After reading, ask questions such as —- why events may have happened the way they did, why people, in the story, behaved in a certain way, what the children would have done and why, and so forth. Provide follow-up activities to extend the impact of the shared reading experiences.