Reading is a virtue. We can learn in many ways: from observation, touch, lecture–but there is no better way to absorb information and learn than by reading. When we read, our potential for knowledge has no limits. For our kids, it’s important to instill a love of reading. A love of reading is a love of learning. But in a digital age where short-form video is inundating our children, and crippling their attention spans, its all the more important that we instill in them a sense of focus, and a love of reading.
The Holy Qura’an speaks on the importance of reading as a tool for knowledge in one of the first verses revealed to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH):
“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; Created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the most generous, who taught by the pen,
taught man what he did not know.” (96: 1-5)
The Qura’an also says:
“… Say, ‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’
Only those who possess intellect take admonition.” (39:9)
We’re going to walk you through how you can get your young ones to read, and also give you some English language recommendations for you to start them on.
If you want to raise a reader, be a reader:
Kids model behavior. That’s why it's important for us to model good reading habits for them. Make time and space for reading books.
Read to your babies
It’s proven that reading to babies improves the pace and quality of their language learning, comprehension skills, and speaking. You can read anything to babies–it doesn't make a difference to your baby. Read the Qura’an, the newspaper, Harry Potter, or whatever it is you’re reading. What’s important is that they hear your voice, the cadence of speech, and that the speech be directed at them. Do this, and watch them learn!
Focus on important learning elements
When you’re reading to your kids, especially the age when they’re starting to understand, make sure to focus on elements of the story they can identify with. Stress shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and funny sounds. The five big, round purple elephants trumpeted loudly! Your child will connect and learn from parts of stories they can grasp intellectually.
Read what your child likes
Find books that connect with your child’s interests. Ask them what they want to read about. They might surprise you! Whether it's fantasy knights, talking animals, or Jane Eyre, your child will be more inclined to read if you have books about things they are interested in. This will also teach them that reading is a source for learning more about their interests!
Ask them what they’re reading
As your child becomes an independent reader, ask them about what they’re reading, and watch their faces light up with excitement! Sharing stories is a great way to connect, get a grasp on your child’s interests, and it’s a great opportunity to encourage them in their reading. What a great bonding experience.
Here are some books we recommend to get your little one started reading:
First, a few classics for young children:
Where the Wild Things Are
This little book by Maurice Sendak is a classic for a reason. The book is the tale of a young boy named Max who gets transported to a wild jungle, and becomes king of the “Wild Things,” a group of friendly, fun-loving monsters. The book’s themes focus on childhood emotional development–mastering boredom, fear, and anger.
Oh The Places You’ll Go
This classic by Dr. Seuss is given as gifts for newborns, and for college graduations alike. It’s a touching tale about the journey of life–the challenges and the joys. It will entertain your kids, and make you cry! It was the last book to be published during Dr. Suesses’ lifetime.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This adorable children’s book takes you through the lifecycle of a caterpillar. On Sunday, he is hungry, and he eats progressively more and more fruit throughout the wick, until he becomes so full that he gets sick! He spins himself up in a cocoon and emerges two weeks later. This book is prized for its educational value. It uses colors, fruit-names, numbers, and even teaches kiddos a little about the nature of caterpillars.
Now, a few chapter books for developing readings:
The Chronicles of Narnia
This seven-book series is a great entry point to fantasy for kids. It’s not as heavy or complex as Lord of The Rings, or even Harry Potter. It’s innocent, fun, and adventurous.
The Magic Treehouse
This series is an elementary-school staple for readers. It's a fun, lighthearted romp about two siblings who have a time-traveling treehouse. They take it to significant points in history, to fantasy lands, and wherever their imaginations take them. These books are wonderful for stirring up your kids’ sense of wonder.
The Wind In The Willows
Mr. Toad, Mole, Ratty, and an assortment of other well-dressed talking animals living in Edwardian England. They embark on silly, lighthearted, low-stakes adventures that will delight. This book is innocent and old fashioned–perfect for animal-loving kids.