World Book Day 2020: Buying story books for kids? Five common mistakes parents make!

Swapna Raghu Sanand
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World Book Day 2020: As the world is set to celebrate World Book Day on March 5, it is essential for parents to move towards ‘book reading’ as an essential activity for their child’s brain development, creative imagination and vocabulary building, among other things.

World Book Day 2020: Buying story books for kids

Reading is not an activity to be undertaken merely for knowledge or information. Navigating the real world through social interactions can be a very challenging experience in today’s smartphone savvy, social media obsessed world.

Books, in this context, are a lifeline that brings hope to one’s struggles and offer solutions that are perhaps out-of-context but real enough to keep a person from drowning in despair.

As a parent who has spent most leisure hours in book shops, here are some common mistakes I have witnessed parents making while they walk into a bookshop to buy books for their children:

Asking bookshop attendant what to buy

Many parents step into a bookshop without a children’s book list or any idea about what they are looking for and they ask the attendant in the bookshop what to buy. Bad idea! Do your homework first before you make inquiries. Also, don’t blindly follow what is recommended to you. Check at your end whether the book suits your child’s age, interests and vocabulary.

Before making a book purchase, know your child’s unique preferences which may be completely different from yours.

There are some ‘filters’ to consider such as –
1. What is the book genre?
2. What is the author’s name, style of writing?
3. Who is the publisher of the book?
4. Is the book age-appropriate?
5. Does the book have difficult words?
6. What about the book’s content encourages your child to think and speak differently about a topic?

Consider this as an ‘R&D’ investment for your child. As you can see, these are more ‘filters’ you can add to your checklist before making a book purchase.

Understand your child’s interests first

While you may be interested in reading about memoirs and autobiographies, your kid may be interested in something else.

Buying books online instead of visiting bookshops

Buying a book should be a physically and emotionally fulfilling experience for your child. Wondering why this is relevant? After all, we can buy books with a click, right? Let that continue for you, if you have absolutely no time to visit a bookstore. For your child, make the activity of buying a book a truly engaging, physically and emotionally fulfilling experience.

Remember, getting your child to read is a long-term activity, a lifelong experience. To make the book reading experience truly pleasurable, you need to let your child experience the world of books that comes alive in a bookstore.

Surrounded by the smell of books, people walking into a bookstore with the sole purpose of buying books and observing how they make their choices and understanding the culture of books first hand is as valuable and priceless as the act of reading a book.

Not buying an age-appropriate dictionary

Buy best children’s books by age. When your child begins reading, one of the first things a parent must do is buy an age-appropriate dictionary. Your child can be shown how to look up a word that he/she does not understand in a dictionary. The methodology is fairly easy and you can initially start by practicing how to do this on a regular basis with your child.

Track latest innovative offerings from publishers

Most parents are clueless about the importance of tracking innovative offerings that are launched in the market by good book publishers. Start by taking your child for the Book Festivals that happen in your city. Get yourself interested in the best offerings and opportunities for your child’s overall development.

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In fact, renowned publishers like Scholastic and Oxford University Press are coming up with interesting digital offerings to boost your child’s reading ability.

For instance, OUP has launched ‘Oxford Reading Buddy’ for school children. This is a digital reading device that aims to help every child’s reading journey and support a child’s love for reading.

Scholastic India maintains a direct engagement with students and their age-appropriate reading abilities through schools. Recently, a notable initiative by Scholastic India launched an all new ‘Read Aloud Channel’ on YouTube, which would curate some of their best books that are read out aloud by some of the country’s best storytellers.

Not only does this engage young readers, but it also builds their vocabulary and interest in reading new books too.

In the long term, the benefits of reading books are manifold. Most importantly, your child’s vocabulary will be a treasury of sorts and this will pay rich dividends in exams, conversations, interactions, writings and in the future when he/she has to make presentations or prepare written projects.

On World Book Day 2020, remind yourself that books have the power to transform one’s destiny in a deeper and more profound way than no other activity can.