Give the gift of reading to children this Christmas!
The single most important thing that a parent can do to help their child acquire language, prepare their child for school, and instill a love of learning in their child, is to read to them. Many people do not fully understand the enormous, positive impact that this simple act has on the life of a child.
When someone reads to a child, they are exposing that child to more than just the words on the page; they are demonstrating proper speech patterns, the basics of how a book is read (i.e., from left to right, top to bottom, etc.), and the excitement that reading can bring. While learning to read occurs throughout the school years, preparing children to read before they start school is better than helping them catch up later. Pre-reading skills, such as reading from left to right, turning pages as you read, and understanding that letters make the words that make up stories, are critical for children to learn prior to their first day of school.
In addition to planting the language seed and preparing a child for school, reading aloud to a child may do something even more important, instill a life-long love of learning and create a bond between the child and the individual who is reading to them. When a child is being read to, there are no other distractions that are taking that adult’s attention away. In today’s world where everyone is reachable at all times, it is rare for a child to have time where they are the priority and nothing else matters.
Reading to a child is a great way to connect with your child and build a bond around learning. One way to do that is to select books that are enjoyable to both the parent and the child. Try reading books that you remember from your childhood. These books can bring back positive memories that you can then pass on to your child while reading. If you are excited about reading to your child, your child will be excited to listen. The more you do it, the easier and more fun it will become. Soon it will be part of your daily routine and it will be the easiest and most fun way to prepare your child for their future.
With all of the information available pointing to the general importance of reading to children, what are some specific recommendations? As long as the reader and listener are interested in what is being read, it doesn’t matter what the book is. Even picture books and language in simple children’s books will enhance a child’s learning and vocabulary because of the conversations between the parent and the child which take place around books and stories. Some of the best books to read to children are rhyming books because they help emphasize patterns of sounds that are helpful to the child when they begin to sound out words and letters. The greatest and longest lasting benefits have been shown in children who are read to three or more times a week.
Reading to a child can make learning and achieving in school easier. So, with the holidays coming up, instead of a buying new toy that may be played with only a few times, buy them a book that you used to love as a child and read it to them. You will have fun, create a wonderful bond, and help them learn all at the same time.