In this article I wanted to talk about reading to children. Most parents already know the importance of reading to children, but a recent study conducted by the UCLA Center for Healthier Children found that only 44.5 percent of Californian children between birth and the age of 5 are read to every day by a parent.
So why aren’t parents reading and, what’s the big deal? Some parents say they feel silly reading to infants because they can’t even talk yet, so what’s the point? Other parents say there just doesn’t seem to be any time.
A great time to read to kids is during lunch. They are busy with their hands and it’s a fantastic way to create conversation. Reachoutandread.org lists these reasons why reading is essential:
Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory.
Early language skills, the foundation for reading ability and school readiness, are based primarily on language exposure - resulting from parents and other adults talking to young children.
Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child's vocabulary at age 3. Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children's books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college student’s conversations.
The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
Reading aloud is a proven technique to help children cope during times of stress or tragedy.
In addition to these great reasons, I believe reading builds listening skills, increases a child’s attention span and curiosity, and develops the ability to concentrate at length. In addition, books that incorporate songs and finger motions that the kids can participate in encourage attention and participation. I can see the difference in how kids who have been with the program and are being read to can pay attention to a story or an activity for greater lengths of time than those who are new additions or are not read to. FACT: Your baby will be able to point in a book (if you say the name) before he or she can name it.
Beyond words.org lists these great -TIPS ON READING TO YOUR CHILD:
Books should be held so that your child can see the words and the pictures. Point to the story as you read it so your child knows that words are read from left to right. Make your voice interesting and read short, simple sentences. Read nursery rhymes so that your child learns that some words sound the same that talking has a steady beat, and that words are fun. Re-read familiar books that your child enjoys to create a feeling of security and comfort.
Here’s a short list of some of our favorite preschool and toddler books:
Eric Carle Books: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you Hear?; The Very Busy Spider; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; The Grouchy Ladybug; Little Cloud
Dr. Seuss Books: The Cat in the Hat; Ten Apples up on Top; Are You My Mother; Green Eggs and Ham; Go Dog Go!; The Lorax; ABC’s; Fox in Socks; Mr. Brown can Moo, can You?; One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Curious George Books: Curious George- Bakes a Cake; Rides A Bike; Makes a Pizza; Visits the Zoo.
Mercer Mayer books: There’s An Alligator Under My Bed: There’s a Nightmare in my closet; There’s something in the Attic
Laura Numeroff Books: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie; If You Give a Moose a Muffin; If You take a Mouse To School
Eight silly Monkeys – Haskamp
Hi Pizza Man –Walter
Cookie’s Week – Ward
More Spaghetti, I Say! – Gelman
Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom - Martin
You and Me Little Bear – Waddell
Good Night Gorilla – Rathmann
Mouse Count; Mouse Paint – Walsh
Bear Snores On – Wilson
Arthur books – Brown
Where’s Spot? Books – Hill
Swimmy – Lionni
The Rainbow Fish – Pfister
Is This a House for Hermit Crab? – McDonald
Little Polar Bear – de Beer
Millions of Cats – Ga’G
Elizabeth and Larry – Sadler
Ten In The Bed – Dale
Go Away, Big Green Monster! – Emberly
Corduroy – Freeman
A Weekend with Wendell – Henkes
Frida the wondercat- Everitt
Caps for Sale – Slobodkina
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type –Cronin
Little Bear’ Trousers – Hissey
The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig – Trivizas
Fact: Most preschool and toddler children’s books can be read in less than 5 minutes!
Last, I wanted to give a tip on where to find inexpensive books. Those parents with older children are familiar with the Scholastic book flyers that come home. But, you can also order inexpensive books online at Scholastic.com. They have printables and activities too!
Your local library is a wonderful source of free books to borrow. If you find one your child is really attached to you can pick up inexpensive copies on Amazon.