A Beginners Guide To Reading

A Beginners Guide To Reading

Here are tips to walk down the path of becoming an avid reader

Kadambari MehtaUpdated: Saturday, January 20, 2024, 10:18 PM IST
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Pics: Freepik

“Mumma! I don’t want to read right now. I already KNOW how to read!” whined by five-year-old as I brought out another phonic reader to check if I can justifiably call my daughter a literary prodigy yet.

It is only human to want pursue activities that bring us pleasure. One may listen to the same music for the nostalgia, and eat at the same restaurants for comfort.

It is also human to avoid experiences that bring us displeasure. It isn’t uncommon for children as well as adults to associate the act of reading with displeasure. Opening a book and to make sense of all those alphabets strung together can be as intimidating for a five-year-old as is it for a 25-year-old who is still recovering from the scars of opening yet another tome to clear another semester.

If children barely experience the pure joy of reading and are expected to read only to score well at school, the natural consequence will be – grown-ups that hate to read and lose a chance at becoming lifelong learners.

So you want to become a reader. Where do I start?

Take baby steps

There are no rules for reading. If long form books feel like a mountain, you aren’t ready to climb just yet, just take baby steps. Subscribe to a newspaper or a magazine; pick up a graphic novel, read a novella.

Reading cannot be taught

I am often asked by parents, “How do I make sure my child likes to read?” and I ask them – “Do you read?”

Like any other habit, children learn from the adults around them. The easiest way to raise a reader is to be a reader. As an adult, you want to be regularly seen reading a book during your free time. Before bed, on holidays and on weekends; when you have time off from your busy schedule, read for fun.

Surround yourself with books

No matter the space constraints, your home should have dedicated spaces for books. Create a comfortable reading nook in your home that you and your family like to spend time in. Also make sure there are racks or stacks of books lying around the house. Spend time in book stores and libraries, soaking in what the shelves have in store for you to explore whenever you are ready.

Moving up in reading

While it may be nice to want to take risks with the type of books you opt to read over the years, there is no shame in wanting to take your time in moving up in your reading habits. The goal is to make reading a lifelong hobby. Think of genres and themes that interest you and dig deeper into it. Enjoyed that World War II historical fiction novel? Find out what else the author has written. Which other writers are good at this genre? There is no need to jump into a non-fiction political science volume right away.

How to sustaining it

Get a library card: I am always grateful to have access to a well-stocked library, run by people who are passionate about books and reading. Get a membership at the local library. Broaden your horizons by experimenting with genres.

Find your community: A great way to stay motivated to keep reading is finding a community that keeps you going. Speak with members at your local library, join a book club or create an account on Goodreads. These are all great ways to stay motivated, and possibly find your next favourite book. Do not discount the potential of good ol’ social media to start a conversation with your friends about what you have been reading. Post about the books you are reading, share quotes and encourage a conversation.

Are book reviews reliable?

With a dearth of opinions online, it is important to be objective about every review you come across. Use the internet and book review websites, vlogs or blogs with a pinch of salt. Every reader has a right to their own opinion, but may not necessarily be one you need to agree with. Over time, find literary critics you trust.

Take risks with books you choose to read and don’t be afraid to put away books that you find hard to finish. Every once in a while, even judge a book by itscover (the best of us do.)

(Kadambari Mehta, apart from being an avid reader herself is a storyteller and children’s books curator. She is the founder of Baby Book Babbles a storytelling program and children’s library in South Mumbai.)

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