Even when it comes to children and reading, as with any other type of teaching, the most successful method of transmitting a good habit remains that of setting a good example. Reading must turn into a pleasure that the youngest must learn from childhood, and then become a passion consolidated in adulthood. We spoke with Dr. Marco Nuara, a pediatrician at Humanitas, about how parents can teach children how to love books.
The book, an important stimulus from age 6 onwards
The only requirement is to be able to read. That’s why, from the age of 5-6, children can and should be encouraged to read. However, it is not certain that from the age of 9 months children cannot begin to familiarize themselves with the world of paper by flipping through and manipulating it. To encourage this, it is a good idea to give the child a space for his or her own personal library from the outset, in which he or she can “fish” volumes to his or her liking. The green light is given to game-books, i.e. those that, through sounds or smells, perhaps, stimulate a multisensory reaction, while a main role before the age of 6, must also be dedicated to reading aloud.
“Already at the age of 6 months, it is useful to familiarize children with books by reading them, showing them the pages, pointing to the figures and then leaving the book in their hands so that they can leaf through it and ‘read it’. For this purpose it is preferable to choose robust books, cardboard or cloth, with a few words and a few figures per page – explains Nuara. This activity, in addition to making children familiar with books and teaching them the pleasure of reading, it stimulates them to listen and repeat, which are useful elements for language development”.
The importance of the topics
Books, for young children, are more emotional than cognitive in nature. That’s why, if we want to make the little ones passionate about reading, it’s a good idea to choose books that talk about things close to them: for example, the evolutionary challenges they face every day, such as going to sleep, sitting at the table when eating or going to kindergarten. The books they read should mirror their daily reality. Finally, we welcome those that contain suggestions on activities to do with parents, such as preparing simple recipes or building toys. Finally, parents’ preferences should never stifle the child’s preferences. “Let the children choose the book to read – recommends the pediatrician – and if they want to touch everything and turn the pages, even if we have not finished reading, let them do. As in all the activities that we do to them are essential pleasure and involvement.
The importance of setting an example
Explaining to a child why it is important to read can be part of the educational action taken on him, but it cannot ignore the fact that the child must actually see adults do what they say to him. In essence, the example always wins over everything. Going to the library together to choose a book, for example, is an activity that successfully involves the child in the world of books and makes him feel involved in something active.
This activity also reduces the technological hyperstimulation that comes from games on tablets, computers that, being characterized by a more immediate gratification and visually stimulating, is likely to take on the “slow” experience represented by reading a good book.