Most young children love storytime, whether read by family members, teachers, librarians or local authors. Listening to a story unfold is a great introduction to the joy of reading. But how do we keep that love alive as more mediums, like electronic games and computer screens, vie for their attention?
Pictures Say A Thousand Words
It all starts with board books. Even then, “Let children choose the books you’ll read together,” Katie Carella, M.Ed., executive editor of Scholastic Books’ trade division recommends. “Choice really is the key to growing engaged, confident readers. Empowering your child to choose what to read early on will help them grow into a life-long reader.”
Weighing in, Cecilia McGowan, the president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), says when reading, make certain your voice reflects an interest in the book. Discouraged because your child seems distracted? McGowan says take heart. “They might be running around a room, but they’re listening.”
Another tip: read a book’s pictures versus its words. This gives toddlers a way of analyzing what’s going on in the story. “There’s so much one character’s expression can tell the reader about how that character is feeling or about what might happen next,” Carella says. Her suggestion: ask questions about what’s happening in the illustrations.
The Never-Ending Reading List
Is your indecisive kid the reason library book checkout quotas were invented? Here are two magic words that will make your life easier – public librarians. “They’re the best friend of parents with young children,” McGowan says. “They’re the key to all the materials in the library and can suggest amazing resources and tailor a book list based on a child’s interests.”
Dr. Gail Gross, Human Behavior, Parenting, and Education Expert, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed. recommends family library visits. “This includes taking turns reading to one another, sharing interests and opportunities for you and your child to write and discuss your choices of reading material.”
The Ritual of Reading
A way to set the tone for reading is making it a beloved part of your daily routine. Gross suggests making changes in your home and lifestyle that reflect a love of reading.
“Having books and magazines throughout the house encourage reading,” Gross says. “Children like to imitate and play grown-up, so make sure your children see you read.” This sends a positive message to early readers about the importance of reading, Gross says, and makes kids feel a parental connected that reflects feelings of love, warmth and bonding via reading.
Another option — take your family’s love for reading beyond books. Gross is a fan of creating stories together. “Putting on family plays, writing scripts, rehearsing and memorizing parts, can help your child learn about writing, organization, storytelling and story structure.”
Activities that also play these kinds of roles are family game nights, connecting your child to a pen pal, organizing an after-school book club and recording your personal histories. Gross encourages, “Record stories you and your children create for one another, to be played back at bedtime or by a babysitter when you have a date night.” Treasures like these can be passed down to future family members as they embark on their reading journeys.
Nurturing Love of Reading: Sources
Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed. Human Behavior,
Parenting, and Education Expert, Speaker, Author
Katie Carella, M.Ed., Executive Editor, Trade Division of Scholastic Books
Cecilia McGowan, the president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA