How I Talk To My Children About Books

Because the magic of books doesn't have to end with turning the last page!

“Did you like the book?” “Yes” (Or “No”) “OK”. For the longest time, this is exactly how the conversation between me and my son panned out every time I finished reading a book to him. Till one day, I casually added just one more question: Why? To my amazement, this simple question opened up a flood of ideas and thoughts, and we ended up talking about the book for over an hour. That day I realized that the magic of a book doesn’t have to fade with turning over the last page – a delightful fact that I wasn’t capitalizing on enough before. And that, books affect children and get them thinking more than I ever realized. I am no expert on child psychology, so I am not here to hand out advice or even tips about how to communicate with your children, or quote studies that apparently prove how talking about books benefits them. But as a mom of two, I thought I would share with you how my children and I talk about books. Maybe it would give you some ideas about initiating or adding to your own rituals and discussions around books.

At least for my son, nothing would make him run faster in the other direction than the words “Come, let’s talk.” So we never have a sit-down session to talk about books. He and I have had profound literary discussions while I washed the dishes and he bounced his ball on the kitchen floor, during a drive or a walk, on the way to kindergarten or school, during a meal, before bedtime – you name it. And often, though frowned upon but for some reason his most preferred, in the middle of doing homework! Also, our discussion is not one-way. I make it a point to listen patiently to what he has to say (which is not always easy, as it’s no news that children take forever to get to the point!) and then share my own opinion on the subject. Over time, he has also learned to accept that a difference of opinion is also OK (something that he initially found hard to come to terms with.) Sometimes, all I get in response to my questions is a Yes, or a No, or an I don’t know, and sometimes even just a shrug. I have learned to stop myself from trying to probe and to leave it at that. I live for the times when I am awarded with little nuggets of wisdom or brand new angles of thought Now that he is a confident reader, I encourage him to read to me at times and he happily obliges. However, I plan to continue reading to him till he allows me to. And I am not planning on giving up our heart-to-hearts anytime soon either. The following are a few general questions that come up most often during our discussions about books. Before reading the book: What made you choose this book? What do you think will happen in the book? Do you like the cover picture? Why? While reading the book: Is the story turning out the way you thought it would? What has been the best part of the book so far? What do you think is going to happen next? DO you feel that you can’t wait to reach the end or would you prefer to go slow? After reading the book: How many stars would you give this out of 5? Do you think you will read it again? If you could change the title of the book, what would you call it? Does this book remind you of any other book you have read before? Why? Did the story end the way you thought it would? If you had written the book, would you have written anything differently? Would you have done anything differently if you were in the main character’s shoes? Would you like to visit the place where the story is set? Why? Which character(s) from the books would you have liked to meet in real life? If you did, do you think you would have been friends? Does any character from the book remind you of someone you know? Has anything that happened in the book ever happened to you or to someone you know? What is the most exciting/ funniest/ most surprising/ saddest/ coolest part of the book? If you had to summarize the book in 5 sentences, what would you say? Did you learn anything new from this book? What do you think would happen after the story ends? Do you think there should be a sequel? **** My younger one, on the other hand, has just about graduated from board books to picture books. While naming it “discussing” would probably be stretching it, I often like to let him take over telling the story that we have read multiple times before. Or, I simply point to a picture in a book and ask what he thinks is happening. The answers range from hilarious to ridiculous and sometimes incomprehensible, but consistently fun.

**** Do you read to your children? When did you start or till what age did you read to them? Do you talk to your children about books? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Happy reading!

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