When climate change has brought in a very hot and early summer, and the pandemic advancing this year’s summer vacation, it’s time to bury your head inside the bookshelves and read more and reduce the “million word gap”.
According to a research, young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than children who were never read to. Introducing children to reading and books helps in developing their intellect and prepare them for the world they are to face. Bridging the “million word gap” among the young millennials is as simple as making them read. That is possible with the help of a generation who had enjoyed the perks of local and lending libraries.
It was libraries that resolved the problems of owning the books which was once a luxury. But times have changed, so have our habits. Our phones have become our wallets, a filtered version of the outside world and we are acquainted to the swift version of the lives we led a decade ago. While we crib about how things have changed around us it’s time to try making things like they were.
Today’s kids have plenty to choose from. Guiding them to make the right choice is the trickiest part. When parents make the choice with the picture books and read aloud books for toddlers, we have to provide them the choice and create interest. Take them to bookshops and libraries in your neighbourhood to see and make choices. Once they discover their genre, then the task becomes easy but always push them to explore and experiment on different genres. Not just the famous foreign breed of books but the native ones too.
As teachers fitting in reading to every student’s life is not a difficult task when pitched in as a collective effort. A class library, where students bring their own books and each take a turn to become the custodians of these neatly stacked piles in the bookshelf in a classroom. This way, there is a sense of ownership and curiosity to share snippets from the books they have already read and brought to the class to share. The books needn’t be just stories either; it could be on art and craft, DIY among the others. This would encourage children to share their excitement and curiosity with the friend who brought the book, as well as establish the joys of sharing such little pleasures with one another.
Bridging the million word gap is not just about the words but the world they will be acquainted with, through the books that will push them to explore unfamiliar worlds.