I’m sure that it will be no surprise to our readers to learn that our family motto is READ, READ, READ. Imagine the pleasure that I had the other night when our 4 year old came for dinner and brought his back pack full of books to “read” with his brand new baby brother.
Oh yeah, right, you’re probably thinking. But the truth is, it is all in how you define reading. The real meaning of reading is having the ability to attach meaning to the printed word. Teaching toddlers to read is really about teaching them that reading books is fun. How do you achieve that? Simple – by modeling the behavior. Research has shown that the size of the home library has a significant effect on educational attainment. The journal, Research In Social Stratification Mobility,reported that “Growing up in a home with 500 books would propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average, than would growing up in a similar home with few or no books.” Below are a few tips to encourage early interest in books:
- Have books available – family room, bedroom, bathroom, and car are some great places to keep books.
- Find a minute or two for yourself, but make sure “someone” is watching, and sit down with a book or magazine.
- Encourage your little one to sit with you and read along.
- Use your finger to track as you read, and make the left to right sweep.
- Turn pages carefully and talk about what you have read. Like “hmm , I really like the story I’m reading, I wonder what will happen next.”
Ask your oldest child to read a story to a younger brother or sister. Siblings reading to each other is a wonderful experience for both of them. The older one can read to the younger one and feel good about being the grown-up for the moment. The younger one will enjoy the attention and the story. Both kids will benefit from the message that reading is special. Oh, by the way, even if the “older” one can’t really read the words and makes up the story as they go along, that, too, is special and can help to develop a love of reading.