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  • Vanita Pal


Does this sound like a trick question?

It’s like one of those questions to which you can never find a proper answer isn’t it?

Getting your child to read in this day and age is an almost impossible task UNLESS you were smart enough to have got him on a reading route before you got him that smart phone.

Yes indeed. The smartphone is an isolationist device which claims to be at the forefront of information technology whilst effectively debilitating the way we seek information traditionally.

Actually, I cannot really blame the children of today. It’s like asking them if they will prefer homecooked food to a home delivery dish of their choice.

It is the choice between surfing and reading. Or ‘apping’ and reading, if ‘apping’ is a word. I am referring to, of course, the way students seamlessly play across a selection of game applications which they have downloaded on their phones.

Children who do not read at all are disconnected with the world. They will never know the delight of reading Dickens, the satirical prose of Hardy, the eclectic wit of Shakespeare, the nostalgic yearnings of Proust or the thrill-addicted themes of Brown.

And what of poetry? That too.

Wait a minute. Do they not do literature in school? Not all schools offer literature and for those who do, students prefer to opt out as they do not score very well.

And why? This brings us back to the same point I made. They do not read.

If reading is so important, why is it not reflected in the syllabus, you might say. Well, to put it simply in a nutshell, that is expected of a student even before he starts skipping along to his K1 and K2 classes.

Well, why exactly is reading so important? Aren’t other subjects like Math and Science more important?

Yes, these are important subjects but reading is connected to English and English is about communication. We live in the age of information technology and social media which is all about communication.

Communicating to people and writing well still rules the day whether you like it or not. The people who revel in wit and savvy comments have the greatest followers.

What about writing essays in biology or geography or social studies?

You will need to write well in those.

Well, ok, you are nodding in agreement and you are beginning to see my point.

Then, how in the world do I get my child TO READ?

Hold on. I have a really simple solution. Actually, more than one.


You could read at bedtime and get the child to be involved in those bedtime stories which run on. Children love such stories.

For older children, you could get mystery story books and read to them until they sleep. This also ensures that they do not play on the phone.


Ok. IF you cannot do it, get someone else to do it.

Yes, outsource the task of getting your child to read to professionals who can.

Engage an English tutor who promises to have holiday classes meant to engage your children in reading.

The tactics used are quite simple. The tutor who inspires the child to read will have an array of easy to digest books to the students to select.

She would have made sure that she understood the reading genres of the students.

For eg. Adventure, horror, comedy, thriller etc.

Students will prefer a certain type so expose them to it. Getting them to read it is not so easy.

The daunting task can be simplified by making up story games or writing quizzes or challenges for students in an engaging way.

This last part depends solely on the skill of the tutor in writing this programme.

The programme should depend on these factors to engage the student.

I it should be on a current theme or updated style of a classic

Ii It should reflect the child’s interest – not all children like classics

Iii It should be entertaining and suspenseful.

Does it sound like a tall order?

It may sound like a tall order but it is entirely possible. Getting a child off his smart phone and on to reading a book is not really that easy but it is not impossible. The pleasure of reading cannot be explained as the effects of a good story with suspense build-up is unmatched by any gaming application. Games provide all the suspense upfront but books build up the delightful style of anticipating the pleasure at the end. It whets up your appetite and makes you aware that there is a whole new world out there beyond the 5G dimension of our media world.

Books are both old and new, provide both pulsating and sanguine moments, awaken a yearning for the impossible and make us realise dreams and want to dream beyond the confines of our armchairs.

Books make us armchair travellers, it makes us sophisticated, polished and infinitely stronger in our intellect unlike any other subject.

Did you know that Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt dazzled both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony with her poise and intellect? She was supposed to have one of the largest libraries in her time and was a pronouncedly well-read woman. It really looked like she bowled over two of the most powerful men of her time with her reading and wit.

Do not put off reading any longer for your child or despair if they do not like it.

There are ways to boost their interest even in this time. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword and the one who speaks with poise and articulates well makes the best impression anywhere in the world.

There are centres who cater to younger children and their reading such as

I can Read.

For those who have teenage children who do not like reading, give Wizpals a shot. They conduct reading challenges and the children’s grades have improved in a month.

Do not put off your reading challenge for your child any longer. Try to help your child today or get someone who can handle it with finesse.

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