If you want your children to have a good shake at succeeding at life, one of the best things you can do is to encourage them to read. Reading is that one skill essential in all areas of achievement. Some children love to read, they do not need encouragement or nagging. Other children may need that extra push to open a book.
It helps to start reading to your child when he or she is an infant. While nothing can guarantee that you little ones will love reading, you can help to guide them in the right direction. Read aloud to your children often. Start reading to your children when they are babies, and keep reading as they grow up. As you read, talk with your child. Encourage them to ask questions and to talk about the story. Ask them to predict what will come next.
Set aside quiet time for family reading. Some families even enjoy reading aloud to each other, with each family member choosing a book, story, poem or article to read to the others. Encourage your children to read on their own. Children who spend at least 30 minutes a day reading for fun develop the skills to be better readers at school. A reminder that September is Library Card Sign Up Month and the American Library Association reminds us that a library card is a most important school supply.
Some things you can do to help your child enjoy reading:
- Visit the library often. Begin making weekly trips to the library when your child is very young. See that your child gets his own library card as soon as possible.
- Buy a children’s dictionary and start the "let’s look it up" habit.
- Make writing materials, such as crayons, pencils and paper, available.
- Ask family members and friends to consider giving your child books and magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays or other special occasions. Set aside a special place for your child to keep his own library of books.
- Encourage your child start a daily journal.
- Get help for your child if there have a reading problem. If you think that your child needs extra help, ask his/her teachers about special services, such as after-school or summer reading programs. Also ask teachers or your local librarian for names of community organizations and local literacy volunteer groups that offer tutoring services.
Helping children become and remain readers is the single most important thing that parents and families can do to help their children succeed in school and in life. As the saying goes, "reading is fundamental."
The U.S. Department of Education says, "Early childhood is a critical time for children to develop the language, cognitive and early reading skills they will need in order to enter kindergarten ready to learn to read." See Related Articles.