Book Box: How to raise a reader

On our recent trip to St Petersburg, we fell in love with a painting. Oil on canvas, hanging in the Hermitage Museum, shows a little girl and her dog sitting on a bed and reading a book together. There is a world outside with flowers and trees. And a world inside. You see this in the bonnet of the little girl, lying far in a corner. But the girl and the dog are in a world of their own, in a way that makes books possible. We bragged and brought back a hard copy of this 1881 painting by Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt.

On our recent trip to St Petersburg, we fell in love with a painting.

Now hanging in our apartment in Mumbai, every day reminds us of the power of children to read.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. Use the time to read aloud as a time for bonding, as a time when phones aren’t checked, when the distractions of the world are set aside‘ says Neil Gaiman.

Why this commitment to your child and to the world?

Because books will

Stimulate your child’s imagination

Expand his understanding of the world

Develop her brain to solve the problem better

Improve his communication skills

Give her a sense of morals

increase his sympathy

As we celebrate International Literacy Day earlier this week, on September 8th, here are six strategies for giving your child a love for books.

Raising readers tip 1: Read aloud

Are you my mom?
Are you my mom?

pick up are you mom? by P.D. Eastman. Point to each word as you read. Make sounds of cat, dog, cow, little bird and mama bird. Do this with all the books you read. Both of you can take turns doing different roles and sounds, making it a fun game.

Raising readers tip 2: Enjoy the words

Look for books with fun rhymes and wordplay. In Dr. Seuss’s ABC, every page contains alliteration. he is Aunt Annie’s Crocodilelam Little Lola Loop And the Lazy lion licks lollipop. municipality bubbles and bumblebee. Both are onomatopoeia, i.e. words made up of the sound associated with them. and so on.

Raising readers tip 3: Catch the word

Arthur's Reading Race.  & nbsp;
Arthur’s Reading Race.

When I read Arthur’s Reading Race to my daughter, I let her have a word of her own. We picked her a D. When I read the book out loud, my five-year-old daughter was up to it read D- Loudly whenever the word appears in the text. words like Arthur I told her. I soon began to recognize these words, claiming that the words “my” are like ArthurAnd the readAnd the ice cream and like. Naturally, I was totally happy with this, even when I had to pretend I was so desperately deprived of taking the words out of me!

Raising Readers Tip 4: Keep books of varying complexity close at hand

Ditch the Marie Kondo book in you, and let the books roam, within reach of your child.  & nbsp;
Ditch the Marie Kondo book in you, and let the books roam, within reach of your child.

Ditch the Marie Kondo book in you, and let the books roam, within reach of your child. Behavioral science tells us that small tweaks can work wonders for habits—and one such tweak is strategically placing books with interesting covers and illustrations. Also keep a series of books – easy books for comfortable reading, complex books for reading aloud and chapter books to evoke a more complex story.

Raising Readers Tip 5: Combine audiobooks and paperbacks

For older children, it’s helpful to have print and audio versions of the same book – such as the Roald Dahl or Harry Potter books by Stephen Fry. Audio enhances typing, and this is very useful for children whose learning styles may vary from visual to verbal. I don’t suggest any reading apps, because even if the reason is worth it, why should we increase screen time?

Educating Readers Tip 6: Build a family that reads

Children of readers have a greater chance of becoming readers. So visit libraries and bookstores, pick up books for the whole family, and make time to read.

And now, to Mumbai, as we celebrate International Literacy Day, at the Kahani Tree Library, where the store is planning a book session on Missing Beauty, an illustrated book in English and Hindi. And meet the Library Foundation Sangeeta Bhansali, who offers us her recommendations in these edited excerpts from our conversation. If you live in Mumbai, Kahani Tree is the best place to pick these book recommendations. If you live outside Mumbai, this is a good opportunity to check out the independent bookstores near you.

Sangeeta Bhansali at Kahani Tree with Young Readers.  & nbsp;
Sangeeta Bhansali at Kahani Tree with Young Readers.

How did the library start?

The Kahani tree started as a wish. As a parent of two children, I wanted to diversify my children’s bookshelves. They had great international picture books but no contemporary Indian picture books other than myths. I found such books, but they were often from small independent Indian publishers with little distribution. So with the support of Vakils – my family’s printing/publishing company – I approached the cathedral and John Connon School where my children studied, among other schools, to offer these books. For the first ten years, we only worked through school book fairs and children’s literary festivals in the city.

We had one wall of books, and then in 2017, we expanded into a storage space.

How important is it to help your child be a reader?

It’s hard to craft this without sounding corny, but our kids are our future. And to help them reach their full potential, they need access to good books. Reading the right books helps our children grow into good, compassionate human beings and responsible global citizens.

What are some of your favorite picture books?

We love books that get kids to ask questions about the world around them, about important things like fairness, difference, and acceptance. Books that help children be curious, thoughtful, kind, and accountable reflect our world in all its diversity, and give children the power to change our world. Some of my recent favorites are Miracle Sunderbaag Stree, Bumoni Banana, Nani’s Walk to the Park, Milo Imagines the World, Cry Heart But never break, there are ghosts in my house and beauty is missing.

Sangeeta Bhansali's Favorite Picture Books.  & nbsp;
Sangeeta Bhansali’s Favorite Picture Books.

What are the highs and lows of running a bookstore?

The biggest elevations are the book lovers who visit our store. A few years ago, we curated a collection of Indian children’s books for the library of architect Tadao Ando Nakanoshima Children’s Book Forest in Osaka, Japan. They were books by Indian publishers Tara, Tulika, Kata, Pickle Yolk, Karadi etc. Another project that makes us happy is the Kahani Tree Story Bag. It is specially formatted for schools and public institutions that work with underprivileged children and can be used in classrooms, libraries, or even to create a reading corner.

Difficulties are the challenges of building a collection of good world books. We yearn for major publishers to offer award-winning, international books at affordable prices.

What are your favorite libraries around the world?

Liberian Per Ragazzi in Bologna, Daunt in London and Linden Book Store in Palo Alto

And finally, which picture books do you gift the most?

Oliver Jeffers and Sean Tan Books for Youth, by Patricia Polaco for Educators, Library Friends and Jagapati Kulpatti for Kids/Toddlers.

Finally, with condolences on the passing of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, here’s a beautiful little book about a queen who falls in love with reading. I won’t say more about The Uncommon Reader except to say that it is a gem of a novel and will make you happy.

Uncommon reader.  & nbsp;
Uncommon reader.

Next week we go from Queen to Democracy, and celebrate International Democracy Day with some thought-provoking titles.

Until then, we wish you a happy read!

Sonia Dutta Choudhury is a journalist based in Mumbai and founder of Sonia Book Books, a dedicated book service. Each week, it brings you books designed specifically to give you a comprehensive understanding of people and places. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for reading, write to them at

The opinions expressed are personal

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