Help children to discover the joy of reading

Reading has tremendous benefits to children.
Reading has tremendous benefits to children.PHOTO: ST FILE

Reading has tremendous benefits to children, from developing their vocabulary, grammar and communication skills, to stimulating their imagination and natural curiosity (Teachers and parents should work together to teach children to read: Ong Ye Kung, Jan 31).

However, we need to find an approach that will instil in them the joy of reading. Children seem most driven when there is an inherent motivation present.

When I take my four-year-old to the library on our weekly jaunts, I leave her to choose her books.

Sometimes, she picks books meant for older children that come with no pictures but pages of tightly clustered words; sometimes, she picks books meant for younger children with sparse and easy words; and sometimes she picks books meant for emergent readers like herself.

Whichever the case, I allow her to bring home books of her choice.

I figured that to get her to love reading, I first have to get her to love books - and who knows better than herself as to which books attract her most.

I have been reading to my daughter for as long as I can remember. This daily reading ritual has endured partly due to my own perseverance but also because she holds me accountable: In the same way I expect her to brush and floss her teeth before bedtime, she expects me to read to her before the lights go out.

Our reading sessions are precious parent-child bonding moments. Thus, I will continue reading with her even after she becomes an independent reader.

We were overjoyed that the National Library Board will soon be increasing the book loan limit for library users, and I applaud McDonald's for offering storybooks as part of its Happy Meals (Borrow twice as many physical library books from April 1, March 5).

Truly, if we look around us, the opportunity to engage in reading with our children is vast, and the best way to sustain this reading journey with them is to seek and derive mutual pleasure from it.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline 'Help children to discover the joy of reading'. Print Edition | Subscribe