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a basic survival skill in today's information society.
to read doesn't happen in the classroom alone. In fact, the best readers
are introduced to books and reading long before they enter school. That's
because parents are children's first and most important teachers. But you
are not alone. Help is as close as your nearest public or school library.
Whether it's surfing the Internet or finding just the right book for a
reluctant reader, librarians are glad to help you and your family.
is fun, kids love to do it. Here are some tips to help make reading a valued
and fun part of your life together.
Half of your
child's brain development happens before age four. Children who are read
to before school age are better readers. These activities are designed
to stimulate your baby's mind and prepare him or her to learn to read.
Talk to your baby.
Tell what you're doing at bath time or when changing diapers. Point out
birds and trees as you walk ("See the yellow bird!). Use your normal voice
and words. Babies understand more than you think.
Sing. Try childhood
favorites or make up your own. Baby doesn't care if you have a good voice!
Read to your baby
each day. Mom, dad, grandparents, babysitters, older brothers and sisters
can all enjoy this special activity. Make it a habit before naps, bedtime
or any quiet time. Pick sturdy books with pages that won't tear and can
be wiped clean. Also try fabric or musical push button books that use baby's
sense of touch. Many libraries have a special selection of books for babies.
Sign up for special
"lap sit" storyhours at the library. They help parents share books with
Make reading cuddle
time. Hold your baby in your arms, on your lap or sitting next to you.
Don't forget to
tell your own stories. It's never too early to share your experiences,
family lore and values. Your history is as important as what's in the books.
As your child
grows, he will be ready for new reading adventures. But remember that all
children learn at a different pace. Some learn slowly, while others will
begin reading in what seems like no time. Some will finish a book in ten
minutes, others need more time. Never compare your child to others. Share
your child's excitement over learning each new skill.
Take your child
to the library and bookstores often. Introduce him to the children's librarian.
Take him to storyhours, even if he won't sit through an entire program.
Let him wander through the stacks and feel good about being there.
As soon as your
child is old enough, have him register for his own library card. Make it
a special event. Call grandma and grandpa to tell them the big news. Serve
his favorite dinner. Let him check out what interests him, not what you
think he should read. Remind him when it's time to return the books (a
great way to teach responsibility early on).
or videos to no more than one or two hours of carefully selected programs
each day. Watch together and talk about what you see.
Make a special
place for your child's books and library books - a bottom bookshelf or
basket on the floor where she can reach them when she wants. Display books
and magazines prominently in your home so they become a part of everyday
Take your child
to plays, puppet shows, musical performances and other live entertainment.
Programs like these are offered by many libraries to stimulate the minds
and imaginations of young children.
Record your child's
favorite stories on cassette tapes to play in the car or when you aren't
around. Or borrow tapes of popular children's books, songs and nursery
rhymes from the library.
Have your child
make up stories and act them out using puppets or toys. Make up songs or
poems together, then perform them for family and friends.
books or magazines along wherever you go. Use waiting times at doctors'
offices or in line at the grocery store to tell stories or read together.
computer games. Many libraries have computers and software designed for
Give your child
books as gifts, and have your child give books as gifts. This reinforces
the idea that books are fun and special and not just for school use.
to keep reading together even after your child begins learning to read.
The teacher will teach him how to read, but it's up to you to make reading
fun and meaningful in everyday life so your child will want to be a good
Use the library
often. Encourage your child to ask the librarian for help finding stories
she'll like. Make suggestions, but let her check out what she wants to
Let your child
see both mom and dad reading and using the library. Encourage children
to think of the library as a resource for fun and learning throughout life.
Enroll your child
in a library summer reading club. It's free! Studies show that children
who participate in summer reading programs are more likely to retain their
reading skills over the summer.
As her reading
skills improve, have her read to you, baby brother, even her favorite teddy
bear. Some stories that interest her may still be too hard for her to read
on her own. She'll let you know if she would rather read with you or by
Look for ways
your child can use his new reading skills. Ask him to read signs, menus,
cereal boxes. Have him read to you while you do the dishes or fix the pipes.
Ask relatives to write postcards to him. Put notes in his lunch box ("Thank
you for helping me today! Love, Mom.")
can be reading time. There are many programs for children that build their
reading skills. Let your child help you "surf the Internet." Have him point
to colors, shapes and words on the screen. Send "letters" via e-mail.
Make holiday cards
and party invitations. Have your child create her own special messages.
She can write them or cut words or letters out of magazines and paste them
on construction paper.
As your child
gets older, have him write a daily journal. Suggest that he start by simply
telling everything he does each day. He could write on any scraps of paper
and put them together in a binder, or you might give him a notebook or
blank page book to make it special.
Set aside a special
read aloud time for the whole family. There are many books that everyone
from toddlers to teens to moms and dads will enjoy. Ask your librarian
for suggestions and remember that many classics like Charles Dickens "The
Christmas Carol" were intended to be read aloud. Have family members read
different parts. Make a bowl of popcorn. Turn off the TV. And enjoy!
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