The practical benefits of reading are innumerable and have been widely discussed over the years. Reading for enjoyment is a wonderful hobby to inculcate among the kids, but is it an uphill task when there seems to be so much entertainment to be had from interactive toys and games?
We chat with avid reader and mum-of-three Adeline Tan , whose kids absolutely love books too. It’s a family activity for Adeline: She reads TO her younger children, twins aged five; and WITH them, reading the same series of books alongside her eldest son, who is 9.
Her children enjoy reading so much that they even help her review books that they read, on her book review Instagram page, @readingwiththetans , sharing earnest and honest reviews about their current reads.
Starting them young and with what they like
When asked how she got her kids to love reading, Adeline says enthusiastically: “It sounds like a no-brainer but I started them young , really young!”
She goes on to explain: “One of the very first activities I did with my babies was to read to them, when they were just weeks old. I even read to them while they were doing tummy time. We started on board books, and as long as they didn't fuss, I'd read to them! And as they grew, they began to flip through books on their own.”
Today, it’s indisputable that her kids love books.
“My eldest son gets through about two books a day now, while I read at least one book per day to my twins. Lucky thing I love to read myself!” she chuckles.
“I go to the library frequently, about once a week, to stock up on books that they’re currently into, according to their latest interests. Right now, my eldest son is into all things army, so he’s been reading titles like Band of Brothers and Red Sniper on the Eastern Front.”
Other than reading to them, Adeline also suggests making books easily and readily accessible for the children .
She says: "I found that literally leaving books all around the house really encouraged them to turn to books whenever they had nothing to do. When they were younger, the children would just pick up the books and flip through the pages, enjoying the pictures and photographs.”
For younger children, Adeline also suggests talking about the pictures of the book with the children to encourage them to think about what is happening, and predict what happens next.
“They would even narrate the stories to themselves, for titles they were more familiar with. It may not have been 100% accurate, but they definitely got the gist of the story,” she recounts.
While she currently has a home library that houses the family’s well-loved books, Adeline used to leave books in baskets and on shelves around the house, creating cosy reading nooks wherever she could.
Reading to gain perspective
Her persistence in ensuring that her children are surrounded by books has certainly paid off: reading is a cherished way of life for her entire family today and is the default activity the children turn to when they have nothing to do.
When asked why she herself loves to read, Adeline says, without skipping a beat: "When I read, I gain so many different ways of looking at things. I have new perspectives, and my life is all the richer for that.”
Echoing his mum, Adeline’s eldest son chips in happily: “I love reading books because I get to imagine what other people feel.