Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Nurture a Love for Reading in Your Child - Special Tips, Ideas and Insights from the Expert (Part 2) (Plus a Giveaway!)

Today, we continue with the second part of the interview with Ms Fiona Walker, the Principal Director of Schools, Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning and Chiltern House on the topic of instilling the love for reading in young children. If you have missed the first part, click here to read.

Q: What can parents do if a child doesn’t seem too interested in reading and tends to run away in the midst of reading together?

A: Sometimes you could say “You know what, I’m going to stay here and finish the book because I’m loving it”, and he might just come back, or he might not. But he’s thinking “She’s carrying on, I might be missing something, even if I don’t want to do it right now”. At your son’s age, you will be challenged to get him to sit down and listen for any length of time. So bedtime stories are the best, because they are tired and less likely to run about.

Q: Share with us how parents can use the Rainbow Bear series of books to help our children with reading? For example, for my little boy (not forgetting that he doesn’t seem too interested with text yet).

A: You can use the Alphabet Zoo book. We use that and the puppets in our schools when we first introduce the letters of the alphabet at about 18 months, just so that they become familiar with the letters and we use them all the way to our Nursery 2 classes, which are at about 4.

You can use the puppets and the songs in the CD. Songs are a wonderful way to get them to hear the sounds and the use of the language.That’s why this whole scheme is successful in that sense because it really brings learning alive and you’re not just sitting down and going through the book.

Q: Is there going to be another book in the series?

A: Yes, there will be! Rainbow Bear’s third adventure is going to be about word families, for example “at”, “that”, “mat” and so on.  It’s great for when the children are beginning to sound out words and read independently.

Q: Any other advice or tips?

A: I think the most important thing is to make it fun and to always keep in mind your child’s level of development and his interest. There’s not going to be learning if you pitch it far too high - it’s not going to interest him or he’s not going to feel like he can do it. While we can give our children a little push to see if they can do it, but if they can’t, or they are just not interested, we should respect that. Then come back to it another day, come back to it through another route.

There are many ways to get children reading beyond sitting with the book. Keep the sitting with the book to something really enjoyable, even if it means you only manage to do that a few times a week or just once a week. You can find other ways to point out the language in the environment. My son loves cars, so he’s really good at recognizing all the car brands. Which is great, because it’s a very important pre-literacy skill whereby he’s able to recognise symbols and understand they have meanings. Which is what letters are – they are symbols and we all agree on their meanings and we put them together to form words.

There are so many symbols with meanings within our environment; the more you spend time pointing them out and you see how quickly your children can see something and know what they mean. By understanding their level of visual discrimination you can have a good indication of when it’s feasible to start nailing down the alphabet and practicing the sounds.

Parents can also consider the use of technology like iPad in teaching literacy. I did have concerns initially. But I see that my children love it and they are so engaged. At the end of the day, learning boils down to how engaged the learner is. I think my son’s learning to read took a big step forward when he got an iPod Touch when he was six. My husband got him games where there’s a lot of reading involved . He’s more motivated to read when it helps him to play the game.

Of course, don’t leave it to just computers games to teach reading but I think they can certainly be useful tools, especially when you can control the amount of time they spend and the games they play.

Thank you, Fiona, for your wonderful sharing and insights. I've certainly learnt some useful tips on how to engage my son in reading together.

Now for the Giveaway!

There will be two books to be won:

1. Rainbow Bear's Dinosaur Discovery - An Adventure in Blends and Digraphs

2. An Alphabet Zoo - Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear

Both books come with CD and songbook.

Here's how you can win one of the books:

1. 'Like' the Mommy Cafe Facebook page.

2. Leave a comment here and share which book you hope to win and what you like about the book.


  • The contest is open to readers residing in Singapore.
  • For the purpose of the draw, participants will be placed into two groups, one for each of the book. There will be a winner from each group.
  • The contest will close on Wednesday, 7 March 2012, 11:59pm.
  • Winners will be randomly picked and the result will be announced on this blog and via Mommy Cafe's Facebook page. 

Join the giveaway now and win one of the two books and embark on an exciting reading journey with your child! Do share about the contest with your friends too!


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