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How to Help Your Child Read and Write

How to Help Your Child Read and Write
“The little girl picked up a bucket of water and threw it over the Wicked Witch who began to melt and shrink away. Soon all that was left of her was a shapeless mass on the kitchen floor.”
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Source:  Gulrukh Tausif
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  • “The little girl picked up a bucket of water and threw it over the Wicked Witch who began to melt and shrink away. Soon all that was left of her was a shapeless mass on the kitchen floor.”

  • This is how an evil witch met her sticky end in the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” that has enthralled children of all ages since 1900. Compare this with the gruesome and vivid details of the duel until death between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort in the famous series that spanned seven books and you’ll know how children’s literature has altered through the ages.

  • But how many parents really feel comfy about their kids reading books about budding romance between teenage girls and bloodsucking vampires? Or chronicles of young boys as they change into werewolves at full moon? Surprisingly, many parents, whom I talked to, were very accepting and philosophical about their children’s reading habits.

  • Rabia, a mom of two sons aged 11 and 13 says, “It will be very unrealistic of me to expect my sons to read the same books that I enjoyed when I was a girl. Cable television and computer games have changed our kids’ palate to such an extent that they want fast action, gory details and violence, even in books.”

  • Fatimah, a teacher in a private school, opined that parents and schools together can have a deep impact on children’s reading habits. If schools maintain a proper library with age appropriate books for each level and parents make sure that their children read these books at home, a lifelong reading habit can be developed.

  • Junaid, a father of three, was of the opinion that there is no harm if children read books about ghosts, ghouls and genies as long as these are balanced by good classics. “The main point of reading should be pleasure, education and enlightenment and in that order”, he added.

  • So are classics a thing of the past and no longer relevant for the hi-tech, fast paced generation? For the sake of our kids, I hope this is not true. Because from great books, we gain ideas of justice, honour and freedom and we learn about the progression of society and culture.

  • But what can parents do if children turn up their noses at 19th century literature and opt for racy books instead? First introduce good books to children while they are still young and they’ll heed your advice when they are older. Second, during summer vacations, parents can pick out a few good books and ensure that their children read them by offering them incentives. For each week of the month, select a classic and ask your child to read the book first and then watch its movie adaptation.

  • One thing that parents must inculcate in their children when it comes to inappropriate books, movies or just about anything negative is the confidence to resist peer pressure. If you are uncomfortable about letting your children read anything which you deem unsuitable for their immature years, put your foot down but make sure that you offer them better alternatives.

  • Here are some tips for buying age-appropriate books for your children.

  • Infants (2-4 yrs)

  • Children at this stage love colourful picture books with easy-to-recognise concepts. It is better to buy plastic or board books so that they can be cleaned and are not easily torn.

  • Early readers (5-8 yrs)

  • Books by Ladybird keywords reading scheme are an excellent way to introduce reading to children and gradually help them to progress to fluent reading. Budding readers would also love books based on Sesame Street and Walt Disney characters, books for young children by Beatrix Potter, Enid Blyton and Dr. Seuss and books published by Oxford Literacy Web and Scholastic Inc., whose series about Clifford, The Big Red Dog is a perennial favourite among young children.

  • Tweens (9-12 yrs)

  • By this age, children are independent readers with strong preferences for genres and authors; however try your best to introduce then to a broad range of literature despite any strong preferences they may already have developed. Good reads for them includes books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and abridged versions of timeless classics like Black Beauty, A Little Princess, Treasure Island, Heidi, The Secret Garden, Gulliver’s Travels, Around the World in 80 Days, Robinson Crusoe, etc.

  • Teens

  • Teens can be very choosy about their selections and may not welcome much input from you. However, if parents have guided them through their formative years, they’ll also love good books with strong social and moral content. By their teens, children should be familiar with the works of Charles Dickens, Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, P.G. Woodhouse, etc. while also enjoying contemporary literature.

  • In addition to these books, parents can also ensure that they have a few dictionaries, encyclopedias and evergreen magazines like Readers’ Digest, National Geographic and other children’s magazines in their home library. Easily obtainable from old-book shops, these are an investment that parents will never regret making for their children.

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