Read, Read, Read!
● By Anonymous
Photo courtesy of Kristi Shanks Photography
In a world of high-tech gadgets and flashy, colorful screens, it’s hard for parents to convince their children to absorb the black-and-white pages of a regular book. However, Doniese Wilcox, Certified Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, reminds parents of reading’s benefits and offers suggestions on how to raise an avid bookworm.
Raising children who enjoy books begins with taking time to read to them during their most formative years – as young as infancy. “If parents took just 10 minutes, twice a day, to read to their child, it would be a revolution in education,” said Wilcox. “Reading is the initial key to anything.”
Reading on a regular basis increases vocabulary and helps in learning punctuation, spelling and grammar. It also helps with comprehension, such as understanding word problems in math. Some books aim to teach the reader about life lessons, values or consequences. On a social level, taking turns to read aloud helps a child understand that another person gets to talk, and then he or she gets an opportunity to speak.
With so many benefits, why would a child reject reading? Some children put off reading due to an initial negative experience, such as stumbling over words while reading aloud with peers in class. Other children struggled when learning to read, and therefore, avoid it when possible. Many children are filled with energy, making a 20-minute reading break drag on forever! If you want your child to read more, ask yourself what may be preventing him or her from enjoying a book.
“Parents should set an example by regularly reading themselves,” encouraged Wilcox. In addition, parents can set aside time each night to read together as a family. “It gives children of all ages a sense of security and instills reading as a family value that they can pass along to their future family.”
Wilcox gave several examples of where you can find reading material for your child at little or no cost. “Many bookstores have a book specialist who knows which reading material is appropriate for your child. Ask the librarian at your school or public library for a list of popular books to keep your child engaged and eager for the next book in a series. Many churches offer libraries, too. Visit scholastic.com for a list of recommended books. ”
Wilcox believes that even listening to books on tape while traveling in the car is beneficial to children. The exposure once again attracts children to a book’s plotline and pushes them to use their imagination.
Encourage your child to pick up books with topics to which he or she can relate. For example, if your child participates in basketball or ballet, a book about basketball or a character who dances will keep your child engaged. Subscribing to an age-appropriate magazine with a theme like sports or nature is another way for parents to make reading relevant to children.
“Set aside 20 minutes of reading time for your child each evening,” suggested Wilcox. “It may not be as hard as you think; most children will sit and enjoy it. Let your child create a reading space, and personalize it with a comfy pillow and blanket or a favorite stuffed animal.”