If we want our children to love books as much as we do, it’s important to make them a part of daily life. From the moment a child is able to grasp, we can include soft fabric or plastic books as part of their learning.
While interactive books are lovely, they should be an occasional treat. We want children to love the simple act of turning pages and making new visual discoveries. Interactive books (books that ‘do something’) are great, but children can quickly come to expect that as the norm. They need to see that books are not toys.
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I have seen an example of this in a bookshop where a young girl of about three was picking up books from the shelf and pressing the pictures with her fingers to see whether something would happen. When it didn't, she would lose interest and move on to the next one.
Here are some ways that we can encourage children of all ages to love books:
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- Use photo albums. Children love seeing familiar faces and objects. There is something fun about a good old-fashioned album filled with photos of friends, family, pets and favourite things. Children can have their own special album and the pictures can be changed as they grow.
- Create a scrap-book. Cut out appealing pictures and paste them in. Allow your child to contribute their own decoration to the pages.
- Use a small exercise book or memo book and write your child’s story, or create one on the computer, print and staple, or bind it with ribbon.
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- Children bring home lots of artwork from school. Turn these artworks into a book, and let them tell or write the story.
- As soon as your child learns to recognise, read or write words, start a book using those words.
- Put aside a couple of your child’s favourite books as special treats, for example to keep them occupied during long car trips or waiting at the doctor’s office.
- As soon as they are old enough, take your children to the library and have their own library card issued. Explain to them the special privilege of being a ‘card-holder’ and the responsibility that goes along with enjoying borrowed books.
- Include books as part of the décor in their rooms. Teach them how to care for books and the correct way to turn pages, etc.
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While we accept the trend of E-books, paper books will always be special. Let’s make sure that the next generation understands and appreciates this so that we can ensure printed books stay around for years to come.