Improve reading habits among kids!!

3 steps to inculcate reading habit in kids!!

After starting Pustaka, I talk to many many people to understand the current trends/behavior patterns amongst readers.A Few common questions I am asked frequently are:

    "Nobody reads books nowadays, including kids."
    "I used to read books at my young age, but I don't have time to read now."
    "Nobody is interested to read regional content when compared to English!"

If I look back my reading behavior, I also see a pattern. I used to read a lot at my young age. I read "Ponniyin Selvan" when I was 10, then continued with various books written by Sujatha. Also books written by so many authors including Pattukottai Prabhakar, Rajesh Kumar, Akilan, Na.Parthasarathy, Thi.Janakiraman, Saandilyan, Vikkiraman were on my list. I did not have enough time to read once I had kids. I completely stopped reading books for close to 5-6 years. Then, I re-started my reading habit and it continues till today. Since I started and realized the value of reading books at a young age, I could resume my reading habit after a break.

I also found that people who reads such books, are reading mainly because of the non-availability of those books in their place. I do completely agree with the second point - it is very difficult to get hold of good Tamil books or Telugu books in Bangalore being a neighbouring city of Tamil Nadu/Andhra. Then I can imagine how difficult it would be for people living in Mumbai/Delhi or in other countries like US/Australia etc. Every single person we spoke to agrees that it is very painful to read pirated scanned books and they will definitely stop such books reading if there was a better alternative.

In my case, the 2 main reasons to start reading at such a young age

    My parents read lots of books at home. I grew up seeing them reading at their free time.
    There is no TV/computer/tablet/mobile 30 years before. You had very few options available at that time such as books and other physical games like cricket, skipping, kho-khoo etc. In this era, we have gadgets all around us and in this stressful way of living, we prefer some activity which kills time without giving work to the brain. TV/games/mobiles does this job perfectly and we have also migrated to these gadgets conveniently. Kids follow our path.

So how do you inculcate the reading habit in your kids?

Start reading in front of your kids. "Be the change you want to see".

If your kid is addicted to gadgets, then ask him to take up the challenge "Gadget-detox" (where you are not allowed to touch any gadgets/TV for 72 hours) and give your kid some incentive. Give him that enough free time forcibly.

Suggest some good book to start, I feel that initial hook is very important. Please don't suggest what you think is a good book. Suggest some genre which your kid likes. You have books in all possible genres - historical, love story, science fiction, thriller, detective, essays etc. Spend time and understand what your kid likes and suggest accordingly. If I am a person, who likes to read detective novels, then if you ask me to read a love story, I may not continue my reading habit as I would have experienced that a bitter feeling the first time. Your first book should give that "wow" factor and the reader should feel that he/she has missed something by not reading so far. Once your kid hooks on to this reading experience, then they do not need any push to take it to the next level.

I feel parents should do their best to inculcate reading habit among next generation instead of complaining about kids not reaching. So dear parents, take an oath today to bring this change NOW!!!

Happy Reading!!