Digital entertainment has become the new norm of today’s kids, and to be honest, it is hard to compete and completely get rid of unless we remove all the gadgets and the internet in the house. (At least for us.)

Digital media, YouTube, to be specific, has successfully dominated every home with young viewers–as young as infants and toddlers!

On this account, YouTube has been barraged with mixed opinions from it being ” a digital babysitter” to being a useful educational tool for others.

Yet, despite all the positive claims on it being a valuable educational tool, it is, however, considered one of the main reasons contributing to children’s decline in reading.

The recent UK survey alone shows that the number of preschoolers who are being read to regularly has significantly dropped, thus poses a serious risk to child development.

What is far more alarming is that, as most parents struggle to achieve work-life balance, they overlook this risk. Parents sometimes forget to consider reading as entertainment also and as an excellent opportunity to bond with children.

As young parents of this budding generation, it is important to note that our choices, habits, and lifestyle have great significance to those of our children’s.

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That being said, we cannot simply wait for the teachers to train our children to read. Learning to read is totally distinct from learning to love reading itself as the latter is rather a habit formed over time. And such a habit can be best fostered through parents’ dedicated support and guidance.

A little backstory

My firstborn for instance has begun showing interest in printed materials since she was 8 months. We started with the cloth books that were gifted to us by some friends, then two months later, I got her first picture board book (first 100 words), which was actually a clever investment. You could see her fascination on the pictures with different textures and the flipping of the pages, though most of the time she just nibbled on them.

We made it a tradition to read to her every day.

Bedtime became her most favorite part of the day as she gets to spend moments with us when we come home from work – reading, role-playing, drawing and craft making.

Like most parents, we struggle in keeping such balance, too–YouTube, in fact, has been a reliable companion on most days to keep her occupied. (There I said it!)

Yet, despite the presence of digital media, her love for reading and learning off-screen remain the same. In fact, every time we have friends who come to visit us, she would always appreciate and feel excited to request them to read a book to her. She would ask tons of questions and would always find reasons to have them read a book to her often.

Benefits of Reading

Reading offers many lifelong benefits to both parents and children as it not only promotes healthy brain development, fuels imagination, stimulates curiosity, develops self-esteem, improves social skills (esp learning empathy), communication skills as it expands vocabulary but also, it encourages strong family bonds.

Studies also show that early years reading help children achieve better in schools, not only in select subjects but across the curriculum.

I owe my daughter’s good critical thinking skills and rich vocabulary from the books we read. She loves having the same books often read to her, and she gets new insights every time we do. She tries to relate herself with the characters in the book and sometimes even makes up her own characters and stories


Reading has also made her become interested in writing as she was more curious about forming letters, besides, it was easier to encourage her to write.

At age 2.5, she has mastered recognizing most of the letters (big and small) and some numbers, colors, shapes, and animals. At age 3.5, we started on learning sight words, phonics and basic counting through various instructional media and materials including charts, flashcards, puzzles, play dough, learning and gaming systems (VTech and Leapfrog) and even took advantage of the internet apps such as ABC mouse and Reading Eggs.

As of now, she’s already independently able to read some Oxford Reading Tree books (Biff, Chip, and Kipper stories). We also have recently started the Julia Donaldson Oxford Reading Tree series which we also find engaging and fun for early readers.

Here are some tips to help you raise a young reader:

1. Establish a reading culture at home. Practice a daily reading habit, begin with picture books for the littlest ones as they have a very short attention span. (A 10-minute session can be a great start.)

2. Be considerate if they ask for the same book over and over. Re-read books and try creative ways to deliver stories. You may use their favorite toys as additional characters in the story. Play dress up, drawing, art and craft making are also great ways to jazz up your reading sesh.

3. Encourage them to think by asking questions without expecting for perfect answers, rather provide suggestions you both can explore. Encourage them to think and talk as this helps big time in developing new vocabulary.

4. Stock up on various printed materials – not just books. Model and encourage good reading behavior. This will help make reading as a normal part of their lives.

5. Take advantage of the internetinstead of just letting them binge-watch on the unboxing ‘surprise toys’ videos. There are some free apps and YouTube videos that can be very useful in helping kids appreciate reading. (One of the great shows on YouTube that my daughter really loved was Paw Patrol as she has this great fascination on dogs. It has also helped her love bedtime reading more after one of my friends gifted her the Paw Patrol books.)

6. Let them visit libraries. Expose them to the world of different printed materials and teach them some basics when visiting libraries like speaking in quiet voices and putting the books back in the right place.

7. Let them choose their books.It is always easy and best to inspire them to read something they really are passionate about. This is also a great opportunity to establish responsibility and teach them decision-making.

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What are some ways we can do to encourage our children to be readers and not just become YouTube zombies?
Kindly share your thoughts below.

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