The most common sight in malls, cafes, pizza places or even streets where an Indian teen hangs out: in a bunch, gathered around, their eyes glued to their smartphones held in front of them. Another very common sight is at home when parents are trying to have a conversation and all they get in return is an occasional ‘ok’, ‘yeah’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘I’m busy’ kind of rejoinders. You can see them making a communion of sorts. You do wonder what makes them so glued to the screens 24×7 and at the same time wish if they would’ve immersed themselves in a series of books instead. What? Reading an obsession? Nah! Wishful thinking!
The best part about them being glued to the screen is a paradox. The paradox is that they would’ve read more words than they would ever in the books; articles, excerpts or other pieces of information. It is also highly likely that they are reading fewer books. When kids turn into teens, they often stop reading seriously. Yes, a gazillion kids have read ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘The Lord of Rings’, ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, and other fantasy dystopian fiction bestsellers.And to satiate their fledgling teen curiosities, they tend to gravitate towards vampire romance, graphic novels, and young adult novels. Along with that, the boys veer towards sports, video games, PSPs and girls into make-up and friendship and in all its tweaking mysteries and playing agony aunts to one another. Much of the social life, today, is conducted on their smart phones for these teenagers. Ask them and they retort that they are more comfortable texting than making an eye contact and talking.
If kids are avoiding eye contact, they are avoiding books even more. Lot of teens are of the opinion that reading anything serious has become a chore, it’s just an activity. Of course these kids are busy at school, homework, friendships, hanging out, music and most of all screens, (TV, Internet, Netflix, Texting, Instagramming)- compared with all this, reading a book is a frail almost antiquated claimant on their time. Reading a book breeds restlessness in some and you can often find them stuck on a page, moored yet glum about it.
Studies suggest that reading literature, history, science and liberal arts helps produce three-dimensional individuals. But how to develop a taste and a habit for such reading at first place? The key to reading habits in kids is reading with them at home from a young age. By reading together often, your child will pick up the joys of first hand reading.
Gradually they will be motivated to take it up themselves. Every child learns and processes information differently, which means some children have a natural fondness and proclivity towards books and reading and some may not. But that doesn’t mean that parents should get demotivated to not even try inculcating this love and habit in their off springs. Parents can make this activity fun and something that the child looks forward to every day.
- Create a reading area at home.
- Encourage reading at home, and even during travel, in cars, planes, buses.
- Parents have to set an example by being a reading model for their kids.
- Try to connect reading with real life.
- Expose your child to different genres.
- Help, support and encourage your child in this process and done give up.
Reading should be fun but not vapid and frustrating.