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Best Bet For A Better Future: Instilling A Reading Habit In Children

Today’s tech-saturated society is leading kids away from books; it’s up to parents to bring them back.

Reading can be an enjoyable hobby for anyone to enjoy, no matter their gender or age.

But that’s not always the case, especially with children. A report made by UNESCO in 2017 warned that children are the ones engaging in the least amount of reading. Furthermore, the report concludes children are not learning the correct way to read.

As a result, in recent years, governments, educational non-profits and community leaders have started joint efforts to bring children closer to reading by offering books that provide increasingly interactive content that counters the distractions brought about by mobile devices and other electronic entertainments.

“This issue is crucial. The ability to read broadens people’s minds and expands their points of view. That is an ability that all children need,” said Sara Elena Benavides de León, a specialist in reading promotion from the Universidad Veracruzana. “Reading allows the child to enter into an enriched and socially recognized experience.”

It is important that children have a positive experience reading at home. (Josh Applegate/Unsplash)

According to the specialist, the ideal moment to bring the wonders of reading to children is in the womb. According to scientific studies, the baby can perceive their mother’s voice starting from the 24th week of gestation.

Thus, songs, lullabies, and poems carry a rhythm that allows the baby to perceive language’s melodic approach. “It will undoubtedly facilitate learning to decode written words,” said Benavides de León. “The experience would be integrated into their everyday life and become a favorable reading practice.”

The approach to reading materials must happen according to the children’s age, said the specialist, who has worked more than a dozen years in the field.

“A selection of reading material taking age into account can lead children to be autodidactic. However, there are guidelines that people can follow. In early childhood, the child should read lullabies, rhythmic poems, and puns. Moreover, formats should also be age-appropriate. Some of the most appropriate formats are cardboard, die-cut, fold-out, pop-up, or illustrated books.”

However, the content and topics of each book must also be age-appropriate. They should read stories that answer their doubts in a clear way or that explore interpersonal relationships, their cultural heritage, and situations regarding nature or rural and urban lifestyles.

Science books are also an excellent topic, as there are even children’s books dedicated to this subject. Moreover, science fiction and fantasy can also help an imaginative child start reading genres such as poetry, short stories, graphic novels, and jump to legends, myths, and traditional tales.

“Both public and private spaces have to provide the elements and tools needed for the development of the child. Government institutions must generate policies that seek to develop the cognitive, intellectual, and emotional abilities of the children,” said Alejandra Inclán, a specialist in reading promotion who graduated from the Universidad Veracruzana.

Governments look for a way to promote reading habits among the children. (Annie Spratt/Unsplash)

According to the specialist, there is no difference between the boys and girls’ cognitive development when it comes to reading; rather, it depends on their home life. “Girls and boys should both have an enriched and favorable reading experience at home. After all, the first instance of when reading occurs is at home.”

In Mexico, more than half the population only reads magazines or Internet articles, avoiding books. Furthermore, the number of book readers is on a steady decline. If nothing can motivate the younger generations’ reading habits, Mexico’s literacy may be damaged irreparably.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Matthew Hall)