This blog post has been originally written for ParentEdge, a leading Parenting magazine in India. It has been re-produced on the Author’s blog with permission.

The habit of reading is a nurtured one. Not an inherited one. Many schools of thought and a highly debated subject but everybody will cohesively agree on the fact that reading is a habit that helps improve concentration. Helps gain more knowledge than one possibly can by pure experience. A lot of mothers have questioned me on how does my child find any book so interesting that he is able to sit in one spot for hours together. My traditional answer is, he likes to read. But in all honesty, no good book stands any chance when it competes with a good game of football. Or lukaan-chupai.

If I were to think deeply about why my child likes to grab a book off any shelf in any bookstore, I think my thought zeroes down on one word- Curiosity. Most children learn because of their inherent curious nature. The ability to explore in children varies due to their varying curiosity levels for the context at hand. So the real question is, what generates curiosity in my child’s mind that drives him to pick up books? Also, one critical thing we need to understand is that the natural response to try and find answers to our questions is to look around, not refer to books. Books are an adult response to acquiring knowledge. So any child will first look around himself to try and get answers.

For some, books are a world of imagination. Things that never happen in real life. Reading books means transporting oneself to that world where elephants fly and birds swim. This fantasy world gives immense pleasure to each child. Because there are no boundaries. Nobody to say- stop or no. What we need to understand is reading is not a habit with the young ones. It is contextual curiosity. Generated and raised to a sufficient level, each child will find his world of imagination.

Sitting with your children and reading is one way to nurture the curiosity. There will be questions from the reading and you helping him find answers will satisfy and complete the experience of reading. Early on, it is fun for parents to read with their children. And when they get to a stage where they are building on their vocabulary, it is vital to encourage them to try and read on their own. The parent needs to draw the fine line between fulfilling their story-time with adequate reading and setting time aside for self-reading. A lot happens when children watch their parents read. They intricately observe how their parents handle books, newspapers. How various reads from these elements transcend into real life conversations and it mostly gives them immense pleasure to do the same! The parent simply needs to provide adequate opportunities for the same. The child will automatically develop a healthy love for reading.

The key is in you being able to determine what keeps your child interested and procuring the right reading resources.