Parenting in a Nutshell: Energize your child with reading
You've heard it millions of times — Reading with your young children is so important to their future success.
While reading through a variety of sources early on — books, websites, newspapers — gives your child a jump start on her education, school is not the only reason to enjoy reading. Reading opens the gate to a rich, enjoyable life. It should become part of your family's daily life.
• Schedule time for reading every day. If your child is reading picture books, you can likely fit in a minimum of three and as many as nine per day (spread throughout wake-up, nap and bed times).
• Encourage your child to make up stories about the pictures he sees on the pages. Ask questions about characters, settings and plot. What's next? Giving prompts to your child will get her to think ahead, as well as think through, feasible plot twists.
• Connect the pictures to the words by running your finger under each word as you pronounce it. Exaggerate your expression and intonation, and use your hands to give emphasis to the story. These actions will engage your child.
• Check your local library's calendar for story times and attend as frequently as possible. Being in a room with other children his age will increase your child's enjoyment of books.
• As you go through your day, look for words wherever you go: The stop sign, the exit sign in the restaurant or the name of your child's favorite bookstore are part of so-called “environmental” reading. Words are everywhere — ask your child to find three new ones each day so you can discuss what they mean.
• Cook together and have your child follow along with your recipe. Point to an ingredient on the list and see whether your child can match it with the actual product or utensil. After dinner, read a book about food or cooking.
• Get your child his or her own library card — what a thrill! Let your children choose as many books as you can carry; if they all don't get read before they need to be returned, don't sweat it. You can renew the books if your child still wants to read them (ask your librarian about the process). In addition, don't feel you must read or finish reading all the books you borrowed if they turn out not to hold your child's interest.
• Start a library for your child at home. Keep books accessible at her eye level in her room so she can look through them whenever she pleases. Teach her to close books when she is done and how to put them back on the bookshelf or in the book basket they came from.