Reading! It is one of the most important and fundamental parts of growing up. Language and communication is an inherent part of a child’s growth, and they are aware and participate in these long before they understand that messages are carried in the printed word. Books are tools for parents and educators to introduce topics, incorporate ideas and complement instruction.
But it goes far beyond education. Opening a book expands the brain in so many ways. There is not a single idea that has not been written down in a book somewhere. Fiction and non-fiction alike, children learn countless things from the books that are read to them. Their imagination explodes even more when they begin to read themselves.
Infants should be introduced to books in those first wonderful days. The appreciation of books can begin before a child understands what the pages contain. In classrooms, teachers provide books for all ages. As they begin to learn how to care, how to hold and how to read books, their limitless minds expand rapidly with the information they gather.
There are many ways to foster the love of books and reading in children of all ages. Most of these ideas begin with the parents and caregivers. It is so important to introduce our children to books and these are just a few ways to do so:
- Read SOMETHING every day! At bedtime, at bath time, when you wake-up… Children will love the sound of your voice conveying new ideas. Soon, children are sure to pick favorites and it is important that we let them do that! The ideas may be the same, but each and every time we read a book aloud, we are adding our own spin. Their brains explode with thought and creativity! Introduce new books when you can, but don’t restrict choices. Picking favorites is an idea that lasts through adulthood, and there is clearly a reason they love it so much! Children can pick hobbies and interests by the simple adoration of their favorite book. So keep an eye out for those go-to books!
- Build a Library! Find books that interest your child or ones with brand new ideas. There is no library too large for a busy toddler or an aspiring reader! Books come in countless shapes and colors, and a vivid library simply translates to a vivid imagination. Children should help, too. Bring them to the store or have them make a list from your school’s fundraisers. The more interest they have in new books the better!
- Grow with your child. Constantly introduce challenging books to the budding reader. If a book seems to difficult, assist them with the words. You will be surprised how quickly they breeze through it themselves. For the older reader, make a time to visit the library. Libraries separate their books by idea, reading level and author. There is sure to be something that sparks the interest of new critical readers.
- MAKE IT FUN! Reading should not be a task. Many adults lose interest in books over time because of the time-consuming idea that they need to finish. Allow children to read, re-read or simply put books away for now. They are sure to revisit them later, or find another that suits them. Give them all the time in the world, but don’t let them forget how much fun it can be!
The inspiration of an avid book-lover comes from so many places. One of the most imaginative events to promote book-appreciation and participation is Read Across America from the National Education Association. It is partnered with Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd this year. Dr. Seuss books have stood the test of time as whimsical and sometimes nonsensical literature that inspires children to be as creative as they can! The simplicity of the rhymes and admirable characters make children eager to read more and more.
This year, many schools will participate in this event. Look for events in your area or at day cares, schools and libraries. The NEA website has a bunch of great ideas to incorporate National Read Across America week into your reading schedule at home and in the classroom. Dr. Seuss has been a staple for children for decades and it is a great opportunity to introduce first-readers to a wonderfully inspiring and creative world of words!