Diana Ser shares tips on how to get kids to read classic novels

PHOTO: Instagram/dianaserlye

With overseas travel seeming unlikely this year due to the pandemic, it can be inevitable for some to experience travel withdrawal blues.

And especially for children, staying home for long periods of time and not being able to explore can lead to restlessness.

However, travel is beyond just packing up your suitcases while seeking excitement in a different country or city. There are so many reasons why people look towards travel, such as wanting to experience new cultures, to meet new people, or even just to briefly escape from the realities of life. 

But there’s also a way you can feed your wanderlust without having to travel physically: through books and movies. 

“During these times of travel restrictions, reading is the best way to escape to other worlds,” shared former actress Diana Ser.

Taking to Instagram(Aug 20), the mother-of-three shared a snapshot of her littlest one, 9-year-old Jaymee, immersed in reading. 

Not just any book, but classic novels in particular. 

The floor was lined up with various Children’s literature books from renowned authors like Charles Dickens and J. K. Rowling among others.

These stories hold a common theme of having strong protagonists and open up a perspective to different worlds and historical viewpoints. 

And beyond that, reading classic novels challenge readers to think analytically, which helps to increase their reading proficiency over time. 

Parents might think that encouraging children to read more challenging material could cause their kids to lose interest in books altogether. However, here’s where it is important to introduce children to books of a difficulty level whereby they can manage.

When asked how Ser trained her kids to read classic novels like Great Expectations, the mother-of-three responded: “I try to introduce classics but in an age-appropriate manner, so Great Expectations for e.g in a simplified version. Also movies ha ha. Hook them with TV series or movies, then introduce the books [sic].

Very smart.

Benefits of introducing classic children novels to kids

There is a huge list of benefits when it comes to reading for children — more than just exposure to classic novels.

Apart from enhancing brain activity, reading over time sets the foundation for a broad vocabulary and improves language comprehension and cognitive function.

1. Instills moral messages

While not as popular as comics or modern stories, exposure to classic literature helps little ones develop character and compassion as they learn about life lessons through human history. 

Classic literature shows that a lot of life’s problems have the same basic patterns. By delivering the same moral message repeatedly, it thus reinforces the idea while giving little ones the inspiration to tackle real life. 

2. Historical and cultural knowledge

Here’s one of the major differences between a typical children’s book versus a classic novel. Just by reading, it allows little ones to learn both the history and culture of people and places as they live out the lives of these characters. 

3. Enhance vocabulary and writing skills

Reading, in general, improves vocabulary but reading classics is of a whole new level. It introduces new ranges of words and helps children identify and comprehend even the tone, irony, and structure in the text.

4. ‘Meet’ with different personalities

Undoubtedly, one of the perks that come with reading is definitely being immersed in a world that is radically different from real life.

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For children who are curious about anything and everything, classic novels present the best opportunity to do so.

There are so many intriguing characters that you can only find in fictional worlds, and get to know them intimately as the story unfolds. 

Whether it is the protagonist, antagonist, or the side characters, each of them has a story to tell.

Getting to know these characters will enable children to flex their creative muscles as they imagine these scenarios in their head, and even learn how to tackle challenging situations along the way. 

Best classic children novels by age 

Perhaps, consider these books for starters: 

3 to 5 years old 

  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams — A heartwarming tale of close family ties, cheerful endurance, and patience.
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen — The silent journey through the wintry woods is a rich sensory adventure and a testament to the quiet, steady closeness of parent and child and the wonder of nature
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson — a wonderful celebration of imagination and independent play

6 to 8 years old 

  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers — Although the book is old-fashioned, with dated gender roles and ideas about child-rearing and manners, it offers timeless lessons about good conduct and understanding other points of view
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White — Readers will be reminded about what it means to be a good friend and be inspired by the book’s messages about the power of love
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl — It explores discovery, creativity, and mischievousness that the vast majority of children can identify with

9 to 12 years old 

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — Fans rave about the movie, but love the book even more. It follows the protagonist Dorothy as she journeys to find home and the friends she meets along the way
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — through sisterly squabbles and tragic losses, the book navigates the growing up process that readers will find relatable
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett — Teaches young readers about the healing powers of friendship and kindness
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens — From love, heartbreak and the lessons learned, the book including teaching children that the consequences of our actions must be accounted for

This article was first published in theAsianparent.