Nurturing readers

Neha Pradhan Arora

A wizard swooping down to fight a dragon… a king and his army fighting a fierce battle… a little girl’s first day at school… a day in the life of a scientist… a space journey… It is easy to get lost in the world of books. The drama, the mystery, the joy, the sorrow, the thrill… it’s like being in a world of one’s own – hidden away somewhere – where only you have the key to the world… the key being the book!

For anyone who has not felt the thrill of discovery in every book, it is difficult to understand the importance books can have in our lives.

kids-bookshelf At the least, they give us information or entertainment and at the most they give us new perspectives. Reading is not limited to gaining language skill. It is a means of discovery and the key to that vast and unimaginable world of books!

To teach a child to merely read the language and understand it is not enough. This is just the first step to a stage of reading independently and appreciating the language and all that it says to us. This skill must then be lovingly nurtured into a thirst for and a love for books and reading.

There are many ways of doing this. No matter what age one teaches, as a teacher, one can make reading an important part of children’s lives.

The first thing is to make it a big part of the classroom. Bring a lot of stories into class. At the primary level, one can bring in folk tales and fairy tales related to the topic being taught, mythological and historical stories related to festivals and important days and so on. The important thing is to bring them in as stories and make them an animated and exciting part of the class. The teacher needs to become a storyteller and use her voice, gestures, and expressions to bring the story alive. Other props – puppets, pictures, rhymes – could also be used from time to time.

The author is Head, Children’s Vertical at Swechha, an NGO that works on environmental issues. She helps design and implement workshops and classroom sessions on active citizenship in government and other schools. She can be reached at neha7779@gmail.com.

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