The Mermaid's Tale

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How to encourage children to read

how to encourage children to read
A love of reading should be cultivated from a young age. By encouraging children to develop a habit of reading, you can give them a gift that will last a lifetime. Sit down with a child you know and read one of your childhood favourites to them. The simple act of reading with your child opens the doors to endless possibilities without ever leaving the house. If the child enjoys the book, you may have just created a book lover for life!

How soon should we start reading to children? The sooner the better! It is never too soon to introduce the world of books to children. In today's high-tech world, fewer children are developing a book habit, preferring instead to engage in activities on their electronic gadgets. The best time for children to read is any time they have a few spare minutes that would normally be wasted on a gadget.

Five ways reading is good for children

Reading picture books develops creativity

As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words". How very true indeed! A habit of reading picture books early on will help children to develop an appreciation of the arts as they are exposed to different styles and illustrations. We all can have a better understanding of a story when exposed to pictures rather than just words.

Reading encourages language development

By reading aloud, children become familiar with the cadences of spoken language. It expands their vocabularies to include new words with every book. This becomes valuable when children start school.

Reading broadens your child's sphere of experience

A habit of reading can transport children to worlds they may never personally experience. Reading about the adventures of classic folkloric characters such as Robin Hood, Sinbad, and Robinson Crusoe helps children experience new and thrilling adventures which are so very different from everyday life.

Reading sharpens children's minds

Having a habit of reading helps to sharpen the thought processes of children. It increases their attention span (the ability to concentrate on a particular focus at length). We all know of young children who are so restless that they can't keep still for more than a few moments.

Reading to children encourages them to sit down long enough listen to a story and look at the pictures. In the beginning it may be just a short story but with time the story may grow in length and in detail. It also helps them to build listening skills.

02 April is International Children's Book Day

Reading to children encourages stronger bonds with the adults around them

A habit of reading at bed time is one of the easiest routines to implement at home. Bedtime reading is one of the best quality times a parent can spend with a child since it is a time when parents set aside a time to focus on the child. The child looks forward to this time knowing it is set time dedicated to him or her. This is an excellent way to build strong bonds, and it helps to foster one on one communication with our children.

Inspire young readers with these books

These are books that I personally recommend to read with children:

The Wolfhound The Wolfhound by Kristine L. Franklin (HarperCollins, 1996): A heart-warming tale set in icy Russia. Not a traditional fairy tale, however, but at least it has a happy ending. The illustrations are lovely.   Bless the Beasts Bless the Beasts by June Cotner (Chronicle Books, 2002): Traditional poems and verse interspersed with modern poems by children. The cute from the heart poems are accompanied by lovely illustrations.
The Book of Goddesses The Book of Goddesses by Kris Waldherr (Abrams, 1996): Inspire a love of mythology with this beautifully illustrated book. Each illustration is shown with an accompanying tale of each Goddess.   Sacred Animals Sacred Animals by Kris Waldherr (HarperCollins Publishers, 2001): Stunning artwork. Much too nice to keep for the children only. It's something that can be enjoyed by all.
Persephone and the Pomegranate Persephone and the Pomegranate by Kris Waldherr (Dial Books, 1993): A beautifully illustrated retelling of this classic myth. I like that Persephone has her own agency in deciding to stay in the Underworld for half of each year.   The Firebird The Firebird by Robert D. San Souci (Dial Books, 1992): This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the classic tale of the Firebird.
Hug Me Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo (Flying Eye Books, 2014): This is the cutest book. The illustrations are adorable and so expressive. I love the illustration with the bunny slippers. Cacti need hugs too, you know.   Miss Maple's Seeds Miss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013): An absolutely delightful book with beautiful illustrations which tells the tale of Miss Maple helping stray seeds find a place in the world to put down their roots.
Memoirs of a London doll Memoirs of a London Doll by Richard Henry Horne (1922): This book seems to have had a clear influence on Rachel Field's Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, even to the doll retaining a possession marked with her name. In my opinion Hitty is a more charming and connected book. This seems a bit disjointed with Maria changing owners every chapter or two. In addition, despite the similarity of time period, there is a grittiness to London Doll which is not present in Hitty.   Four Dolls Four Dolls by Rumer Godden (1983): Combined edition which includes Ms Godden's short stories: Fairy Doll, Impunity Jane, The Story of Holly and Ivy, and Candy Floss.

Perhaps due to their shorter length, the stories were not as engaging as some of her other works (Miss Happiness and Miss Flower and Little Plum). I didn't develop as great of an attachment to the characters although the stories were on the whole well-written examples of the "doll literature" genre.

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden (1961): The author's writing style is quite precise and clear. I especially enjoyed the footnotes that became the endnotes for the book to explain both the Japanese terms in the book and the techniques for constructing the house. The book is in many ways reminiscent of A Secret Garden and A Little Princess (i.e. child is sent from India to England for school). Very well-written if slightly dated.   Little Plum Little Plum by Rumer Godden (1963): The sequel to Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, set a year later. The little girl who moves in next-door gets a Japanese doll of her own, but neglects the poor little thing. Eventually the Fell girls make friends and are able to invite their neighbor over so all their Japanese dolls can have a traditional Doll Festival together. To me the best parts of the book are the dolls talking amongst themselves (which the humans of course cannot hear). Miss Happiness and Miss Flower are very insightful in their own way.
The Hundred Dresses The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2004): This timeless book is just as relevant today as it was when first published in the 1940s. With its message of how bullying affects those being bullied, it should be required reading at this grade level. In this case, the target's family felt they had to move away. Today? Perhaps more dire consequences might result. Children today would benefit from such an important message. The Moon Lady The Moon Lady by Amy Tan (Aladdin Picture Books, 1992): A retelling of the Chinese tale of the feast of Chang-O, the Moon Lady. This is told from the perspective of a young child wanted to make a wish. Beautiful illustrations.

The Doll's House The Doll's House by Rumer Godden (1947): A doll's view of the world in which an eclectic collection of dolls occupy a dollhouse.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

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