A love of books and reading is one of the most precious important gifts anyone can give a child. Reading encourages imagination, builds understanding, opens up new worlds and helps children reach their full potential.
Reading with children from birth is the best way to teach them the joy of reading. It is also a special way to build relationships, encourages conversations and have fun together. Our children will reap the benefits of reading for the rest of their lives as Islam encourages us to seek knowledge from cradle to the grave.
As with many moms we read lots of books at home. I try to utilize every single minute in our busy household so whenever I get 5-10 minutes I quickly grab some books and call children to my side. They love reading and discussing the stories together. Even little Ibrahim has some of his very own favourite books that he brings us again and again to be read to him.
Ibrahim has lots of board books to look at pictures. He points to pictures and tries to talk, mostly by bubbling away. His favourite is his panda book. He also likes turning pages using his index finger in other books. He started singing “alif-baa-taa” song for us and joins us when we do “a a apple” song. If I say a a and pause he says “Allah”, if I say b b and pause he says “ball”. He always walks with a couple of books in his tiny hands- so cute mashaAllah.
Safiyya is now more and more interested in books. I read short story books to her sitting her in my lap. I hold her index finger and follow the print with her finger as I read along. Whenever there is a word that I know she can read I pause and she reads. And we continue reading in this manner till the end of story- reading together. I read long words and she reads short sight/dolch words. She can read most sight words such as “I, we, he, she, this, that, they, on, of, a, the” and we have also done some word groups with her cat-sat-mat, map-cap-tap, hit-bit-it etc. As I said in my previous post, I am using this programme to work on her handwriting and reading and Alhamdulillah she does fine copywork and she can read most words. I also use Jolly Phonics flashcards with her from time to time and Rhyme Game from Enchanted Learning. Also, she likes learning on the go; I point to words and signs as we cook/bake/play in the garden/opening some packaging/travelling in the car- and Alhamdulillah she has mastered the phonics/sounds really well. Although the foundation is there she can not yet join the sounds and read fluently. Therefore, focusing on sight words and word groups is really helping her to improve her reading with the above programme. But she is so good at talking about stories and mostly pretends to be reading a story we have read together by turning the pages and narrating it to herself in English.
Sumayya reading lots of chapter books. She reads average size chapter book containing 40-60 pages in one day. Longer chapter books with pages between 60-100 may take up to 3 days and even longer ones take about a week to finish. She loves finishing books in one go, she is so immersed in the story that she doesn’t want to do anything else unless she finishes the whole book. I realize it even more how we parents should be careful to choose books for our youngsters. You never know which part of the book the child will be internalizing and of course we always have a follow up discussion and point out all the good deeds the characters did in the books and discuss why they should not have done some of the things they did etc. Even then, it is always best to stick to books that help our children build a good character inshaAllah.
I sent the kids to the library with their dad last Thursday. Alhamdulillah we started going every Thursday as the need for new books are increasing with both the girls. Anyway, last Thursday they came back with about 20 books half of which I would not let the kids choose in the first place. One story was about how elephant lost his ears and there were some Gods and Goddesses in the story. Another was about a wicked witch, then another was about some naughty pirates. I had a discussion with my husband later about a) Is it better to let a child read such books and explain the wrong content with discussion afterwards or b) Is it better to not expose their young mind to shirk and magic at this stage? We have concluded that it was obviously better to not choose such books in the 1st place. Why would I want them to read such books? There are so many other ways of explaining what is wrong and what is right in Islam and so it is always best to feed their mind with good books and good reading that help them build a kind, caring, sharing, helpful, etc character traits. So, inshaAllah we stick to books that contains Islamically correct and morally good stories so the children get influenced in a positive way.
Here are some of the books we have read recently and alhamdulillah it has been of so much benefit so check them out from your local library. The first 6 books are all chapter books Sumayya read last week. Good books for young readers and we got them all from a local library.
1. You can do it Stanley by Irena Green- Sumayya read and enjoyed this
2. Ellie and Granny Mac by Elizabeth Maclennan- Great to encourage conversations about extended families and of course building relationship with grandmas. Sumayya read and really liked the book.
3. The parent swap shop by Francesca Simon- Oh this book was my favourite. It taught us so much how we should be grateful for what we have and always appreciate our parents and what they do for us. Highly recommended for personal purchase but also check out your local libraries as we got it from the library.
4. The Spider School by Francesca Simon- another chapter book Sumayya read last week. She did not like this book much and I think the whole concept was a bit hard to grasp for her 5 year old mind (all the way to the end the story was happening in little girl’s dream. And it didnt say at the end that the whole thing happened was her dream lol)
5. The Giant Postman by Sally Grindley- S read and enjoyed
6. Kit’s Castle by Chris Powling- good read
7. Mr Bear’s Holiday by Debi Gliori (the whole Mr. Bear series by the same author are so good. I liked both the vocab, language and the illustrations. so engaging mashaAllah). I bought these books in car boot sales but I think libraries have them too.
8. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (I can’t stress enough how good these stories are, mashaAllah so much to do with character building. And most local libraries have a single story from the collection made into a book. We got ours from the library too, alhamdulillah)
9. Poppy’s Teddy by Louise John. We read this with Safiyya and she was happy as she could read most words inside. The whole Start Reading collection by the same authors are great, perfect for 3-4 year olds who just started reading.
10. Our all time favourite book is Cindrella- an Islamic Tale. We read this book again and again. Of course we want our girls to be like Zahra in this story and always mention her when correcting their misbehaviour or encourage a positive behaviour etc. MashaAllah, the author has done a brilliant job.