Spread the Word…Kids Need to Read

Several years ago, I was driving around the Wexford area with my (at that time) toddler son and a friend looking for Pizza Hut. We drove up and down the road many times but could not find it. Just as we were about to turn back and give up, I heard a tiny voice from the back seat yell out, “Mommy, Pizza Hut!”

            I love this story because it beautifully exemplifies the early stages of reading development. Of course, my two-year old could not read the words “Pizza Hut” but he knew the symbol for “Pizza Hut.” So, he connected the symbol with the words and thanks to my smart baby, we got to pick up our pizza!    

            Linking symbols with words is one of the earliest forms of reading development. That’s why a baby’s first book is usually a picture book. Even though picture books have no words, they help children develop essential reading concepts.

            According to experts early exposure to reading concepts is vital for a child’s future reading success. Some even recommend that expectant mothers should read to their unborn child.

It’s crucial for kids to start reading as early as possible and continue reading in abundance! Here are some tips to help promote good reading skills among children that will last for a lifetime.

Read to and with your children for 30 minutes every day. It is very important to read out loud to your children before they start school. Help your children to read with you. Ask them to find letters and words on the page and talk with your children about the story.

Talk with infants and young children before they learn to read. Talk with your children all day long, using short, simple, sentences. Talking with babies even before they can speak will help them later when they learn to read and write.

Help your children to read on their own. Reading at home helps children do better in school. Have lots of children's books in your home and visit the library every week. Help your children get their own library cards and let them pick out their own books.

Get audiobooks if your child has a developmental delay. Reading may cause frustration among some kids. So, you can get books on tape. Borrow or buy a tape player that is easy to work. If you cannot find recordings of your child's favorite books, you or a family member could make recordings of them for your child to listen to while looking at the books.

Help your child to see that reading is important. Suggest reading as a free-time activity. Make sure your children have time in their day to read. Set a good example for your children by reading newspapers, magazines, and books.

Set up a reading area in your home. Keep books that interest your children in places where they can easily reach them. As your children become better readers, make sure that you add harder books to your collection.

Give your children writing materials. Children want to learn how to write and to practice writing. Help them learn by having paper, pencils, pens, or crayons for them in your home. Help your children write if they ask you. If your child has a special learning or physical need, regular pens and pencils may not be the best choice. Ask your pediatrician or people who work with your child at school or at the child care center to suggest other writing materials your child can use.

Read and write with your children in their native language. Practicing their first language will help your children learn to read and write English.

Ask your children to describe events in their lives. Talking about their experiences makes children think about them. Giving detailed descriptions and telling complete stories also helps children learn about how stories are written and what the stories they read mean.

Keep track of your children's progress in school. Visit your children's classrooms to learn how your children are doing in school and how you can help your children become better students. Ask about the school's reading program and where your children need help.