Author Debra Ann Francisco still reads Harry Potter books with her son, even though he is an advanced reader at 11. They enjoy discussing how scenes in the books are depicted differently in the movies.
“Talking about books and their impact on us is just as important as reading them. My years as a literature teacher taught me this,” says the 44-year-old, who encourages parents to continue reading with their kids even as they get older.
Francisco is the author of Vinod And The Deepavali Dishes and four other children’s books that teach kids about Singapore’s diverse food culture. She is also the News-in-Education specialist of The Straits Times Schools team.
“I wanted to write a series of stories about heritage food for children so parents could start conversations about their own ethnic cuisines and hopefully involve their children in cooking these dishes in the kitchen,” says Francisco, who has two older sons aged 18 and 16.
For parents with younger children, she suggests creating a daily ritual of reading and making it a special time for the family. “I used to promote another book at the end of each day’s story time,” she recalls. “This creates anticipation for the next day’s read.”
If your kid is a reluctant reader, begin a new book by talking about the illustrations first.
Ask your little one to guess what the story is about, from the pictures. See if that sparks any interest and then say: “Shall we see if our guesses are correct? Let’s read this to find out.”
And why not record both of you reading together?
“My youngest son used to love Owl Babies by Martin Waddell when he was three, and could recite the story by heart. I recorded us reading together, with him reciting the owl babies’ dialogue,” says Francisco.
“He got a kick out of listening to his voice over and over again, and it makes for a lovely recorded memory, even years later.”
What to read with your child
Author Debra Ann Francisco shares her favourite titles.