Want to Nurture you Child’s Love for Reading? Follow This Simple Pedagogical Practice
It happened as I was witnessing my brother’s partner breastfeed her child. The baby was playing with the nipple, perfectly contented. It dawned on me that what I was witnessing was not a feeding, but a learning. By committing to an exploration of breastfeeding as the practice of freedom, Alina was teaching her baby how to seek freedom. This, I thought, was the first, most important, lesson in my nephew’s life.
Nipples share this with books: how we use them is none of anyone’s business. Herein lies the secret of how to nurture your children’s motivation to seek pleasure as they grow into little readers who devour books: forget about the concept of the seriousness of books.
This was a tough lesson for me to learn. Children can go totally nuts with books. Before I had kids, I was an avid reader who was casual about the way I cared for them. I didn’t see myself as someone who viewed them as sacred objects. I never had any problem creasing pages, writing in the margins, highlighting entire sentences. And yet, when the little ones reached out for one of my books (or notebooks), my first impulse was to jump on them, like a leopard on an impala.
This seemed to work. The more I treated books seriously, the more my kids ran away from them.
That’s when I stopped to reconsider my reactions. As a mother of two, I know for a fact that children tend to associate “seriousness” with “boredom”. If I was serious about having kids who are excited about books, I was going to have to adopt another strategy. I started to look for ways to disrupt ideas of boredom that affect general perceptions of books.*
In a nutshell, what I realised was that, as parents and educators, we ought to be cultivating excitement around books by genuinely allowing children in as co-creators of excitement.
What this means is simple. Just let them.
Let them walk on books. Let them make houses with books. Let them closely inspect the sound of a tear, the taste of an illustration. If reading and playing means the occasional destruction of favourite pages and covers, then be it. Accept this side effect. Tape, glue, staples, rubbers (and meditation) are your friends. Teach your children how to mend their favourite narratives. Through this performative act, they will renew their love for the story inside the object. The patchwork will stand as…