Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

~ Mark Twain ~

Book Feeding Your Child

May 22nd, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 12 secs

When is it time to start book feeding your child?

Now is the ideal time to start book feeding your child. You might already be doing it. But in case it has been relegated to priority 232, let me encourage you to bump it up the significance list.

When I say “book feeding your child” I don’t mean stuffing paperbacks into their lunchbox or getting them to chew hardcovers to toughen their teeth. I mean taking an active, thoughtful approach to nurturing your child’s reading strengths.

Straight up, I believe you and your child’s discernment are key to making the book feeding process work. Never mind the professionals and what they like to read. Choose between you and make it a pleasure. The more you surrender what you and your child like to what you should do, the less energy there is to sustain the habit in the long run. To prevent that, I now “officially” dub thee both “Reading Experts.”

No doubt you can see the benefits. Getting your child (or grandchild) more engrossed in reading has endless spinoffs, and they’re all good. Book feeding your child also happens to be something they can readily snack on between meals without ill effect. That makes book consuming one of those rare indulgences that is actually supremely good for you!

For finicky readers, pick the easiest material that fits their age category. No child likes being babied on the book front. So choose more image and less text. Plus, in this day and age where reading predominates, you can easily spread the menu. Consider giving your child a book allowance they can spend on books and magazines if you can. And do visit your local library if you have one.

Typically, book feeding your child follows a theme. First get them engaged in reading for pleasure’s sake and gradually wean them onto more advanced literature, leading into classic children’s fiction, and so on. But everything is fair game really. What matters is that you share your own love of reading with them. So your child or grandchild not only develops their own reading proficiency, but also their own healthy appetite for reading.

Although book feeding your child seems a pretty obvious process, not that many people take it on board. Perhaps it’s too onerous (especially when you’re already juggling cats, cooking meals, stowing groceries, and working in paid employment, etc.). Or maybe life is too distracting for the both of you to be bothered. If kids seem to be reading, does it actually matter? My teacher side suggests “yes.”

Children grow fast, don’t they? So the effort to engage with them has a finite “use by” before they declare you’re no longer required. It’s natural. But by book feeding your child as early as you can, you tap into their innate hunger to discover. Reading to them can dovetail into them reading to you and beyond, in a cherished process of sharing that can gently affirm you both. Really, it’s remarkable what a wee bit of regular reading can do. As an investment, book feeding is a winner, offering a host of lifelong dividends. Plus, it has one extra benefit: it beats the pants off TV.


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