What Parents Need to Know About Raising Readers
Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook, says that giving a kid a passion for reading is like giving a kid a head cold: you cannot give it, if you do not have it. So parents need to understand that the best way to encourage their children to read is to read with and in front of their children as much as possible. It does not take a rocket scientist to raise a reader. All any child needs is a caring parent who is present. Here are some quick tips for parents to encourage their children’s reading development:
- Sound crazy? In one study researchers asked women in the last trimester of their pregnancies to repeatedly read aloud Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat. Once the babies in the study were born, they demonstrated the ability to distinguish rhyming passages from Dr. Seuss from another book without rhymes. Translation: it is never too early to read aloud to children.
- By the way – babies are naturally attached to their mothers because, among other reasons, they hear their mothers talking. Be an active parent and talk to your baby so she is familiar with you before she is born.
- Share books that your infant can “man-handle.” These include board books (those made of thicker cardboard), vinyl books and those made out of cloth. Keep in mind that a lot of infants get their first “taste” of reading by literally putting books in their mouths.
- Whenever the time, read books that rhyme. And babies think it’s neat, when their parents repeat.
- As toddlers can have a limited attention span, it is a good idea to pick out short reading passages. Nursery rhymes, poems and fables are ideal.
Keep in mind that strategies that work with toddlers often work for second graders, so do not get stuck with age-specific ideas. You do not have to wait until third grade to expose your child to different genres. The most important tip is to keep reading fun. Children who love reading tend to love it because they associate it as a special activity between them and their parents.
Danny Brassell, Ph.D., is a father of three and professor in the Teacher Education Department at California State University-Dominguez Hills. He is the founder of The Lazy Readers’ Book Club, http://www.lazyreaders.com/, Google’s #1-ranked site for cool, “short book recommendations” for all ages. You can get more teaching tips by browsing his books and videos at his website, www.dannybrassell.com