How to read for children?

In Summer 2016, at (nomadic) home, Little Prince and I have enjoyed many moments of reading together and recollecting our experience through visual memory (online photo albums, pictorial story books, etc), I am tremendously grateful to The Universe for loving us so much. May Little Prince, Little Princess and more children of others, especially whom I have the blessings to get to know to personally, grow up to be voracious and wise readers for life.

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I have a mother who read to me.

~ Strickland Gililan

Some useful strategies [1] to encourage our little ones to love reading:

  1. Start now! It’s never too early to get into the reading habit [2]. Read! Often. Together. Everywhere [6]. It’s absolutely fine to repeat because repetition is a mode of learning.
  2. Visit library as a venue of learning, exploring (an itinerary of #happyTravel), and creating visual memory (#pandaHappyProject). Libraries around the world, from Boston to Cambridge, have been a sanctuary for many souls who are hungry for knowledge and thirsty for solitude for creativity. Borrow (buy only those that we cannot borrow) to nurture frugality and financial independence.
  3. Nurture curiosity.
  4. Nurture independence. Encourage a child to choose his/her own books.
  5. Sing! Have fun learning new words. Songs and rhythms help in learning.
  6. Talk! Discuss about the stories you have read together, to nurture quick thinking skills. Talking encourages children to (i) think and then communicate their thoughts verbally, (ii) create their own stories by looking just at the pictures (not at the words) in the book, (iii) focus on details for comprehension.
  7. Ask questions to children based on explicit and implicit information in the book. “I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all I knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who.” ~ Rudyard Kipling. In Summer 2016, one of Little Prince’s favorite words has been “Why”, “Why, Mommy?
  8. Imagine more and further based on the stories we have read/learned/listened to. For example, at 20160629 night, I told Little Prince to imagine that our bed as a boat and not to go down from the bed to prevent falling into deep sea water like what happened to the little girl in the animation that we watched at Singapore Art Museum.
  9. Play! Act out a story from a book. Dramatize, read with animation (e.g. use different voices for different characters), and play dressing as a grown-up or a favorite hero/heroine. Pretend to be a character from the story.
  10. Count (e.g. the animals on a page) to nurture numeracy skills.
  11. Reward children when they identify #pandaLesson + life values, and copy good behaviors from the characters in the story.
  12. Compare and differentiate. For example, which one is a girl? How do you know that she is a girl?
  13. Diarize (write, doodle). Enjoy doodling the alphabet in giant letters, drawing a summary of what we have learned from reading. Start a family journal [3]. Take turns to write in it, helping children along when it is their turn to write. Write postcards and letters with our children, addressed to family members or even storybook characters [4].

More tips thought during 2012-2013 experience.

[1] Acknowledgements: my own childhood reading experience in spite of having limited resources (see Asia2016/20160619_woodlands_library.png) + Singapore National Library Board (perhaps the most comprehensive library system I have experienced hitherto) that encourages multilingual development (English, Chinese, Malay, Tamil).

[2] I remember reading story books to Little Prince even when he was a baby, I even made #pandaVoiceNote and videos for our favorite reading materials.

[3] #pandaInspiration: A friend – also a (tiger?) mother who has lived in Jiangsu, Beijing, Syracuse, and Abu Dhabi and travelled to Alaska, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Seychelles, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Yellowstone, Yosemite- created a wordpress blog to document her 2007-born son reading experience (读书心得). See ref2016/20150220_lesson*.txt

[4] I still write to Santa even though I have lived over 3 decades [5]. While a teenager living overseas alone, away from my family, I wrote letters to my mother almost daily, documenting my life experience, some are trivial, some are grand dreams that unbelievably realized as I gratefully look back now.

[5] Be childlike, not childish.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

20160630 3 pomodoro

[6] On 20180305, after a string quartet concert by the Attacca Quartet, Little Prince stayed late with me at work. At the pantry, where he had a simple dinner of tarragon chicken with saffron rice that I electrically steamed (instead of using microwave), he read the labels on the drawers and cupboard and practiced spelling them (e.g. glass, plates, spoon, grocery). Yes, we read everywhere! By six, most can read words or combinations of words.

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