Each child should have a personal library of books in his or her personal space at home. This could be in their bedroom, a common area like a living room or dining area, or in a study room.
Today’s child is bombarded with digital media and handheld electronics. These devices and outlets constantly distract and withdraw the child from hands-on exploration particularly face-to-face contact, which forms the basis of learning.
These basic learning and communication activities, like reading for pleasure, engaging with other children in fun activities outside or playing interactive games, develop the mind and psychology of a child and teach many, social and life skills.
Here are some tips on setting up a personal library for your child:
Setup a personal space close to your child in the bedroom when they are young (0-3 years old) like a bookshelf or table for their reading books in their personal space.
Buy age-appropriate books, magazines, and other reading literature for your child and organize them on their bookshelf. If you need to, borrow books from the nearest library. Try to get 2-3 books to begin with and make sure they are colorful, attractive and have many visual presentations.
Every night, take time to sit down and read a book with your child. This allows you to engage with your child and talk about the story in the book.
While reading, make sure both you and your child are looking at the words and pages in the book at the same time. Use your finger to point out and explain different pictures in the book. Discuss with your child the general ideas in the book.
Some children are able to start reading at a very young age. The more you expose your child to new vocabulary and ideas, the faster they will learn and communicate with you and everyone else in their environment. Consider reading 1-3 books per month with your child.
Make sure that your child’s personal library grows with your child. As they get older, they can help you select books they would like to read.
Encourage children to narrate to you (and others) what was in a book they read. For example, what did the child learn from the book that they didn’t know before? How did the book make them feel when they finished reading it? Who did they like most among the characters and why? Who did they like the least?
Encourage your child to keep a personal diary of their reading experiences. This can be expanded to include personal narrations of their daily lives. (“Becoming”, the #1 Bestselling memoir by Michelle Obama, was based on many of her personal diaries.)
As your child gets older, give them a timetable for using their electronic devices. Limit their screen time and the hours they spend online and replace that activity with reading a book for pleasure and to spark curiosity.
For students in secondary school, phones should be limited to the weekend. Use laptops or desktops placed in a common area for homework or research.
Click on the link for the recommendations for screen time from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
There are many benefits to having a personal library. This includes:
- Brain and cognitive development: Ideas in books allow children to think, form opinions, and grow their minds. They are able to explore different worlds and environments outside of their own.
- Vocabulary and spelling: Children who read books have a higher vocabulary and generally have more expressive capabilities than those who do not have the same exposure. They also spell better because of the many words they have seen repeatedly.
- Fostering curiosity: Children who have learned to appreciate the information in books early in life tend to be more curious and maintain a life-long learning approach and growth mindset.
- Relaxation and stress relief: Comics, cartoons and funny stories can help a child relax and release tension. This is a positive habit to learn, as they become adolescents and experience more challenges in their lives.
- Parents should help children become better readers and learners by imbibing the culture of reading more books with their children. Children learn by watching their parents and parents can influence their children by reading in front of their children and by having book discussions.
- Finally, you will never be lonely if you are a reader.