Finding Balance in Raising Muslim Children
February 10, 2015

Reading to children is an enjoyable experience for both adult and child. There are many benefits of reading to children as well as many reading options. Read on to find out how to develop a love of reading in your child, and how to choose a good children’s book.

As a parent, teacher or educator of little Muslims, we have an important role of imparting knowledge to bright and young minds that have incredible potential for learning and retaining information. There is no shortage of children’s books that have valuable lessons contained within, but it is heartening to see many more books, of a high quality, that are being released for children that have an Islamic element within.

Written by Muslims for Muslim children, these books often focus on an Islamic principle, Qur’anic message or life of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and incorporate this with imaginative stories, captivating illustrations and other interesting features. By using these, as well as a variety of other books, we can instil in our children a love of books and a love of reading, whether for learning or for pleasure.

Benefits of Reading to Children

1. Soothing Effect

In my own short experience of being a mother to two young children, I have noticed that the one, most effective way of calming my children down, is to open a book and start reading. Whether it is just looking at picture books (for younger children) or reaching for a favourite story book, the one-on-one attention that reading provides can diffuse most tantrums.

2. Parent-Child Bonding

Reading out loud to children is also important for parent-child bonding. It provides a framework where only the parent, child and story exist, apart from the normal surroundings. In a world where we are largely distracted by electronic devices and screens, again, it is the one-on-one attention that reading a book provides. This connection is vital to share with young children.

3. An Educational Tool

Choosing a book with an embedded lesson or moral is also a great way to teach children about certain things that may be difficult to explain in normal circumstances. Children respond very well to characters that they can relate to, and through them it is easier to communicate difficult concepts.

Tips to Develop Young Readers

1. Variety

It is widely agreed that the single most important way of developing a love for reading in children is to provide them with a variety of books. Picture books with bold, fun pictures are a great way to start out and then gradually increase the complexity of the books. However, it is important not to limit children to books that are only recommended for their age. Introducing more complex books earlier may help develop their understanding of concepts much earlier.

2. Fun

Make reading fun for both of you! Do this by associating reading time with positive family time. Establish a special place to read books and to store them. It does not need to be anything fancy: a special reading sofa, corner or bookcase will do. Let your child be a part of the decision.

3. Library Trips

Visit the public library regularly and scour second-hand stores for pre-loved books to build up your collection or arrange a swap with your friends and family. Make the occasion of buying a new book one to look forward to. One common factor among adults I know who have a love for reading is that they were encouraged to choose their own books from a young age and taken to bookstores or libraries and given the time and liberty to explore.

4. Routine

Develop a reading routine for your family. Carve out a specific time or times of the day where children can choose a number of books to be read out aloud to them. Your child may choose to read the same book every day for months, but if your child has chosen it, read it! If children experience this time as a positive time, they will associate reading with positivity and will grow to love to read, In sha Allah.

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