Making reading an everyday habit
Many of you agree that reading every day is important. As a member of The Write Team, most readers of this column know that sharing the love of reading is my passion and I will continue to write about the value of encouraging kids to read for pleasure every day.
The first step is to begin with a daily reading routine with young children. There are many benefits of reading board books, cloth books and picture books to babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Listening to the rhythm and sounds of language, links the words to meaning for babies by age one. Reading during snuggle time helps babies to grow and develop a healthy brain. The closeness of being with your young children as they drift off to sleep is priceless. Your child will ask you to read a favorite picture book numerous times; just go with it.
Many parents believe kids no longer need to be read to once they learn how to read on their own. Some parents question the idea to read outside of school. Aren’t my kids reading at school? Yes, reading takes place in the classroom. Research indicates that kids who read 20 minutes a day at home read 1,800,000 words per year and score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests.
By listening to picture books and chapter books that are read aloud, emergent and developing readers, ages 4 to 6, hear new vocabulary and listen to the pronunciation of new words. Additionally, they gain listening and speaking skills, and improved cognitive development.
Over time, older readers, ages 7 to 12, will insist on reading independently. Encourage this choice. Additionally, take the time to read aloud to this age group. Consider the genre of nonfiction that includes informational type texts to read together. A parent can read one chapter aloud and the child can read the next chapter, taking turns. Suggest graphic novels that are silly to serious.
Think about books that you read and enjoyed as a kid. Recommend some favorite classics to your children. Books are called classic because they stand the test of time and continue to engage readers’ generation after generation.
Encourage kids to read across all genres of fiction and nonfiction. Kids go through phases of genres they’re passionate about, from girl detective stories to historical fiction to sports biographies. Some kids are curious about animals, castles, or pirates. Encourage the love of reading.
How can a daily routine of reading fit into a family’s already busy schedule, you ask? With the hustle, bustle of daily lives that includes numerous routines and activities at home, in school and work, finding time for what is important can be a challenge. On a daily basis there are family meals and chores, evening homework and after school activities along with so much more. Some days the clock seems to be in a fast forward motion. There are never enough hours in the day to do what one wants to do and needs to do.
Think about what is important to you and your family. Think about priorities. Establish a routine. Daily reading for children is an investment in future success. There is no acceptable excuse to not make room for reading.
Fitting reading into your family’s routine and lifestyle is a choice. Encourage reading time for independent reading or reading aloud. Set aside time for reading. Read to kids at bedtime or find a few moments to read in the morning at the breakfast table. Perhaps your family prefers afternoon reading time that includes an after school snack. Turn off the TV, phones and the computer that may distract from the pleasure of reading.
While running errands, talk to your children and ask them questions about letters and words seen in environmental print. Include words from road signs and places of business. Take books along while waiting at the doctor’s office, driving through a car wash or standing in a long checkout line at the grocery store. Use these few minutes to encourage reading.
Kids need to know there is something worthwhile about books and remember the special times spent reading together with a parent or a grandparent. They will remember the books, too. Parents can influence their kids’ appreciation for books by sharing their love of literature and modeling their love for books. Your kids need to see you reading for pleasure. Keep kids engaged and encourage them to become lifelong readers. Together, take the time to devour book after book. Both you and your kids should always have a book to read.
By Sue Leopold