Reading as a Habit: A Teacher's Letter to the Parents


Dear parents,

As an English teacher, I notice that the students who exceed in my various classes are all readers. These kids are able to read fluently, grasp plots and ideas quickly, put themselves in the shoes of the character, deduce things, formulate thoughts, express themselves confidently, and effortlessly let their imagination flow in creating something new. These are all highly desirable skills for anyone to be equipped with, no matter where they may find themselves in life.

The children who read can also spell most words correctly in an almost intuitive way, without even thinking much about it.

I encourage each and every parent to utilise this period in your child's life when their mind is absorbent and open, and introduce the reading habit. Please don't make it into another thing that has to be accomplished, but more of a tactful investment in getting into a book together, and sharing the enjoyment of it. Most non-readers will not take kindly to being told to read a book. They will view it as another chore on the never-ending list of things that grown-ups expect children to do. The trick is to join them in the reading, enjoy it with them, like and hate characters with them, speculate about the story with them, and generally have fun.

My son is not a natural reader, and I've had to really coax him, and sometimes bribe him to sit down with me to read the first chapter in a book. He prefers to be read to rather than read for himself, so I read aloud to him. There is a little less resistance the next day to read the second chapter. By the time the third chapter is done, the story would have picked up steam, and he can't wait to find out what happens next. Then it's easy for me to negotiate that he reads aloud at least half the chapter before I continue the rest. About the halfway mark through the book, he's begging me to sit with him to find out what happens further, and towards the end he's reading chapters on his own in his eagerness to move ahead with the story if I'm delayed in joining him.

The whole process repeats with the next book I want to introduce - initial resistance, followed by grudging interest, and then he's completely hooked!

The key is to pick books that you know will capture their interest, and ones that you can enjoy too. The point is to make it an enjoyable activity. Book reading is for pleasure, after all. Introduce it gently, don't force anything, and above all, make sure it is fun for both you and your child.

For grades 1-2, look for Dr. Seuss books and the Enid Blyton range for younger kids like the Noddy series, folktales, fairytales, etc. Little ones also love traditional tales about Krishna's antics and how Hanuman was born, etc. You can find a good quality range of books with such themes at Chinmaya Mission.



For grades 3-4, a good introduction to the world of reading would be the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. Children of this age also take well to reading/being read simple stories from epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which seems to capture their imagination especially at this age.

For grade 5, books by Roald Dahl, especially "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and books by Enid Blyton like the Famous Five series and her other adventure/mystery series are much loved by children. For girls, the Anne of Green Gable series, the Emily series, and other books by LM Montgomery are a treasure trove. Books by Francis Hodgson Burnett like A Little Princess and The Secret Garden might appeal too.
For grades 6 and right up to adulthood, the Harry Potter series is a sure bet. They are hugely riveting and enjoyable at any age! The Lost Prince by Francis Hodgson Burnett is a page turner also.
These are just suggestions to start you off, you can pick any book that you remember capturing your interest at that age, or select a recommendation from other sources. The main thing is to pick a book that will capture the child's imagination, immerse them a whole new enchanted world, and have them thirsting for more.
This is also a great way to include a healthier source of entertainment and pleasure than just screen-based activities. Reading opens up your child to whole new worlds, ignites their imagination, promotes emotional intelligence and empathy, not to mention confers a host of academic benefits that fluent reading, writing and expression naturally imparts.



Please do consider reading a chapter together with your child from a book of your choice as a daily bedtime activity. I would recommend you continue this until the child takes to reading on their own. Some children might not ever become avid self-fueled readers, but your investment of quality reading time with them is sure to make a huge difference in both their inner and outer worlds.
Thank you,


Ani20's picture

I would like to thank you for writing this article. I plan to send the link of your article to the parents of all the middle school students who come to me for English class and tutoring. I find myself saying almost what you have written over and over again.

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