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Engaging children in the joy of reading

International Children’s Book Day asserts the importance of children's cognitive, emotional & social development

Renowned English author Neil Richard Gaiman once said: “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.”

In today’s digital age, with the growing trend of smartphones and social media, children’s reading habits have taken a back seat. The Covid-19 pandemic, which forced schools and libraries to shut down and made online learning the new norm, further exacerbated the situation. As a result, motivating children to read and appreciate books has become a challenge and a daunting task, for parents and educators alike. In today’s digital age, where information is readily available at our fingertips, the necessity has also risen to select good authors and books that offer quality content.


Celebrations such as International Children’s Book Day (ICBD), which just concluded on April 2, provide an opportunity to emphasise the importance of reading and the selection of good authors, for children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development.

This year, the theme of ICBD was ‘The Power of Diversity’, emphasising the importance of promoting diverse voices and perspectives in children’s literature.

One of the most effective ways to encourage children to read is to create a conducive environment for reading. The role of parents and educators is the most vital factor in this direction. Parents and educators can set aside a dedicated time and place for reading and ensure that it is free from distractions.

Another way to motivate children to read is to make reading fun and enjoyable. Children are more likely to read if they find the content interesting and engaging. Parents and educators can select books that cater to their children’s interests and hobbies. For instance, if a child is interested in space and astronomy, books on the solar system and the universe could be a great choice.

Additionally, the use of interactive reading techniques, such as storytelling, role-playing and dramatisation can make reading an enjoyable experience.

It is equally important to prioritise selecting books from established and reputable authors, who have a track record of producing quality content. This can be achieved by conducting research on the author and their works, reading reviews, and seeking recommendations from experts in the field.

Parents and educators should also consider the genre and age-appropriateness of the books. For instance, a book that is appropriate for a ten-year-old, may not be suitable for a six-year-old. Therefore, carefully considering the content of the book and ensuring that it is suitable for the child’s age and level of maturity is vital.

In the words of the American children’s author and cartoonist Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Reading exposes children to new ideas, expands their vocabulary, improves their cognitive skills and fosters empathy.

Children’s author Jacqueline Woodson said, “Reading is important because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.”

Therefore, it is important to help children find books that interest them and foster a love of reading, which can be done by organising book clubs, reading challenges and other activities. By creating a sense of community around reading, parents and educators can help children see reading as an enjoyable and rewarding activity.

Reiterating this view, Australian children’s author Mem Fox also once said, “Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”

The aid of technology can also be used to promote reading through e-books and audiobooks and thus help and engage children discover new books and connect with other readers.

Renowned author with several books to his credit, Ruskin Bond says, “If you want to cultivate a love of reading, give a child a good book early in life.”

To conclude, it can be said that celebrations such as ICBD provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of reading and the selection of good authors. By promoting diverse voices and perspectives, parents and educators can use such occasions to expose children to a range of cultures and experiences, thereby fostering empathy and understanding.

The need of the hour is to provide children with the joy of reading and promote children’s literature. Our role is to bring the children to the magical world of books.

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