By Alix Matteson
Reading is a skill that most of us take for granted. Each day we read text messages, street signs, and perhaps labels at the grocery store. We are fortunate because we have been taught to read. There are millions in our nation and more than you might guess in our community that are not so fortunate. Literacy is a gift that we can give our children as soon as they are born. Daily reading, talking, singing, and playing are all ways to increase a child’s awareness of the world of language.
As our children get older – but still at a very early age – we can expand on their understanding of print. Simple reading concepts such as how to hold a book, how to turn pages, where to start reading (left to right) and how punctuation works, all better enable our children to grow to comfortable and confident readers.
Most of these early concepts are learned through observation. Namely, your children watching and listening to you read to them and around them. Something as simple as seeing you read a newspaper or cookbooks sends the message that reading is an enjoyable and necessary task.
If your child does not want to read, there may be an underlying issue. Signs of struggling readers include a hesitance to read, reading slowly, avoiding reading, rereading lines of text numerous times, poor comprehension, sounding choppy or robotic and an inability to sound out words. If your child shows these signs, talk to their teachers. Early interventions is the most effective way to correct reading difficulties.
44 million adults in the U.S. can’t read well enough to read a simple story to a child.
National Adult Literacy Survey, (1992)NCED, U.S. Department of Education
Ways to increase literacy awareness and enjoyment for your children:
birth to 5
• Read aloud to your children daily.
• Teach them nursery rhymes.
• Sing songs, play games, interact and talk to your child.
• Point out letters, numbers and signs. Just associating the
McDonald’s logo with a Happy Meal is actually a beginning
• Have a place in your child’s room for his or her books.
• Designate a place in your family room for children’s books.
• Encourage family reading time. Turn off the TV, computers, cell
phones, games, and read for 15-20 minutes a night. Have the
older children read to the younger ones, or just have beginning
readers look at the pictures.
• Encourage book discussions even with the youngest readers.
• Introduce your child to the librarian and take the fear out of
asking for help locating a favorite book.
• Have an ongoing reading challenge.
• Start an author study. Many authors write book series that can
keep kids interested for months and even years.
Middle School and Beyond
• Take an interest in what your kids are reading. Get a copy of the
book they are reading and read along with them so that a book
discussion can take place.
• Encourage your child to use sticky notes to write down ideas, questions,
unknown vocabulary, and interesting facts to discuss with you.
• Set aside a small amount each week or month for a book allowance.
Go to the book store and let them pick out a book.
• Download books to an electronic reader.
• Subscribe to a children’s magazine that comes in the mail.
• Remember that it is OK to start a book, but not finish it. A book
must hold your child’s interest to be enjoyed.
One of the most important jobs we have as parents (and there are many) is to foster a love of reading which leads to a love of learning. Make reading time enjoyable instead of a chore. Show your children how much you rely on reading every day.
Resources Around Town:
- Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters 870-772-3055
- Literacy Council of Miller and Bowie County 903-791-0166
- Southwest Arkansas Development Council Reading help for adults, 870-773-5504
- Texarkana Public Library: 903-794-2149