The importance of reading to children: Ready your child for reading
By Brent Sitton
It's never too soon to start your child on the path
to reading. Simply talking to your infant and toddler helps her
develop the vocabulary she will need as she enters school and begins
to read. As you point to and name objects, she will begin to
understand the meaning of words, and will eventually begin to
incorporate those words into his vocabulary.
The U.S. Department of Education recommends
beginning to read to your baby when she is six months old. According
to their 2003 report, "Hearing words over and over helps her
become familiar with them. Reading to your baby is one of the best
ways to help her learn."
In that same report, the Department of Education
also recommends that parents reach out to groups that can:
Help you find age-appropriate books to use at
home with your child;
Show you creative ways to use books with your
child and other tips to help her learn; and
Provide year-round children's reading and
A child's love for reading grows when the words on
the page come to life through experiences shared as a family. For
example, after reading Eric Carle's Ten Little Rubber Ducks to your
toddler, you can learn all about real ducks, make ocean snacks, or
go on a family outing and feed the ducks at a nearby pond.
In order to help your child get ready to read, the Department of
Education also recommends:
Using sounds, songs, gestures, and words that
rhyme to help your baby learn about language and its many uses.
Pointing out the printed words in your home and
other places you take your child, such as the grocery store.
Spending as much time listening to your child as
you do talking to her.
Taking children's books and writing materials
with you whenever you leave home. This gives your child fun
activities to entertain and occupy her while traveling and
Creating a quiet, special place in your home for
your child to read, write, and draw.
Keeping books and other reading materials where
your child can easily reach them. Having her own bookshelf or
small bookcase will not only make her feel special, but will
also communicate to her that reading is special.
Reading books, newspapers and magazines
yourself, so that your child can see that reading is important.
Limiting the amount and type of television you
and your child watch.
The best thing you do to ensure that your child will
grow up reading well and loving to read is to read to her every day.
The time you spend reading together will create a special bond
between the two of you, and will open the doors for a dialogue that
will continue throughout the more trying years of adolescence. The
Department of Education suggests that, when you're reading, you
discuss new words. As an example, they suggest that you say,
"This big house is called a palace. Who do you think lives in a
palace?" Likewise, they suggest taking time to ask about the
pictures and what your child thinks is happening in the story.
The same report suggests additional strategies for early literacy:
When reading a book with large print, point at
each word as you read it. Your child will understand that the
word being spoken is the word she sees.
Read a favorite book over and over again.
Read stories with rhyming words and lines that
repeat, and have your child join in.
Read from a variety of children's books,
including fairy tales, poems, and non-fiction.
The more strategies you can incorporate into your
child's reading experience, the more likely you are to help your
child develop into a strong reader.
Brent Sitton is the
founder of DiscoveryJourney.com. DiscoveryJourney
has a variety of tools available to parents to help promote a
culture of reading in your household. Discovery Journey has compiled
a Child Book List of children's books that not only engage children,
but also delight parents. Our children's book reviews identify character
trait and child behavior issues in the book to discuss as a
family. Each children's book review contains 5 related fun and
educational child activities to enjoy as a family, inspiring the
passion for learning and reading!