Jul. 17, 2012 at 9:11am
The Importance of Reading to Your Kids
Plus: 50 books to read to your child before kindergarten
Reading encourages language learning.Reading is one of the best ways to learn a language. Children learn by exposure, and when they see proper grammar, punctuation and word usage in stories and other written forms, they learn without trying to learn. They don't necessarily have to study the rules of grammar if they have seen enough examples in the books they love.
Reading increases vocabulary skills.How many times have you read a word in a book and gone to look it up in a dictionary? If you're like many people, probably not too many times. Instead, you likely understood the meaning of the word based on the context.
Kids do the same thing. And because their brains are in a state of enormous growth and development, they are more likely to absorb what they read and understand it intuitively, without needing things explained to them.
Summer reading programs for kids aren't just fluff, either. John Hopkins University researchers discovered that the difference in learning between kids of various socio-economic classes wasn't very great during the school year. But during the summer disadvantaged youth did not read as much, and they experienced greater "summer slide," the loss of knowledge and skills that occurs over summer break.
Greater access to books and reading helps to narrow that gap, decreasing the chance of poorer children falling more and more behind as they get older. Libraries are a great leveling tool; everyone can access plenty of books and reading material, free of charge. Here are some tips for what can be done at home to support a child’s love of reading:
- Create a literacy rich environment. Make sure books are where children can easily reach them. Have an alphabet chart and talk about letters and the sounds they make. Label things around the house, like toy box, blocks, dolls, cars (you can make labels on the computer and use a clip art picture as a ‘clue’).
- Read, read, read! Follow the text with your finger when you are reading. When you are doing this you are helping your child to learn some reading basics: that print works from left to right, that words are separated by spaces (i.e. "word – space – word – space") that words make up the sentences of a story.
- Have space where children can play with words - reading and writing go hand in hand. Set up a writing table, keep some scrap paper around for your child to practice writing, have magnetic letters on the fridge or a let them play with a blackboard.
- Rhyme is very important. You can sing nursery rhymes and songs with your child, read rhyming books, and encourage your child to predict rhyming words (the cat sat on the...), or you can make up nonsense rhymes of your own.
- While reading, encourage your child to recognize tricky words that appear a lot such as 'the,' 'was,' 'when.'
- Talk about the sounds that words begin with. Use alliteration to encourage understanding of beginning sounds: "I’m going to make some squishy, squashy sausage sandwiches," Play I Spy, asking children to think of words: "I need to go and buy something starting with "m" from the store – what could it be?" Note: It is important to use the letter sound rather than the letter name when playing these games.
Whether reading a book, sharing a story, using a recipe, writing a birthday card or reading a street sign, children observe of the value of reading and writing every day.
Not sure where to start? Click here for list of 50 books you should read to your child before kindergarten. Or join us for KidsQuest Storytime every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am!