It has been said that the most critical years of a child’s life is the first five. This is the time when one does the most growing — physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you think about it, the foundation is set in these first five years, and parents are the child’s first teacher. It’s a daunting task, but with a few simple tips, I believe parents are up to it! What kind of reader do you want your child to grow up to be? Here are five ways to raise a reader:
- Read, Read, and Read some more! The best and most important way we can create lifelong readers is by reading aloud to our children from birth. Even before birth, if possible. If you make a habit of it from birth, it becomes a natural part of your routine as your children get older. I began reading to my children nightly as they received their last feeding for the night. It led to a natural extension of bedtime reading. Now my children are 3 and 6 and a night would not be complete without reading before bedtime. I firmly believe that creating the routine early on has helped us to stick to it as they have grown older.
- Talk , Talk, and Talk some more! Have conversations with your child from birth. It may seem strange to talk to an infant, when he doesn’t respond, but you are setting the stage for language development which is a precursor to learning to read. Between the ages of birth through 3, children’s minds are sponges soaking up everything. When at the grocery store, talk about the colors of the produce. When driving, talk about the meaning of traffic signs. Some of the first sight words children recognize are environmental print, such as traffic signs, store signs, etc.
- Expose, Expose, and Expose some more! Expose your child to all types of print inside and outside of your house. Books, magazines, newspapers, labels, traffic signs, store signs, and even online print, such as Big Universe books. Exposure to print from a very young age has proven to be a precursor to reading as well. The more we expose our children to print, the more likely they are to have the language development they need to become successful readers.
- Build, Build, and Build some more! Build a home library especially for your child. Create a small corner that is special just for him or her, loaded with various reading materials (see above). Baskets are a great way to display and store books. If placed in a basket, children are easily able to see the covers and choose the book he/she wants. Change the books from time to time, so that there is variety. Place fiction and nonfiction together. If you are so inclined, make the baskets theme based and place books that relate to a theme together in one basket.
- Write, Write, and Write some more! Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more you read the better writer you become and the more you write the better reader you become. Encourage your child to write. Drawing lines and scribbling is a precursor to actual writing and an important milestone in literacy development. Provide paper for your child to write lists, letters, and stories. It may not look like anything to you, but your child is actually going through an important step in his or her development to becoming a successful reader!
I am a mother of two and a former classroom teacher. Always an educator, literacy is my passion. I love to read a good book and I love to find good books for my kids. A stay-at-home mom since my son was born almost seven years ago; I decided to put that passion to good use and founded Links to Literacy. My goal is to provide interactive literacy experiences for families and children. It is my hope that every child will grow up to be engaged, lifelong readers and I hope to empower parents to help their children through the process. For more information, please visit www.linkstoliteracy.com
Dawn Little also blogs at www.teachingwithpicturebooks.wordpress.com where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing. In addition, she blogs at www.literacytoolbox.wordpress.com where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children.