Do you spend time reading with your children? In today’s society children are being pushed to read at a much younger age, and it’s not usually approached as a way to benefit the child’s love for reading. Rather, it’s motivated by the misunderstanding that we want them to “get ahead” and get them prepared to “do well” in school.
The classroom is an interesting place where an educator evaluates the reading strengths and needs for over twenty individual children. Over time it has become apparent that the struggling readers don’t have the higher deficiencies in reading comprehension (when they are reading books at their individual level), and the fluent readers many times struggle with comprehension. These fluent readers have become expert decoders; they struggle to grasp that we read to gain information or to enter into a story. They read words to get through a page, and use strategies to find an answer to a question. This could be a consequence of too much test preparation and the authenticity of learning being compromised.
It’s important to read to our young and adolescent children. Maybe at first there will be some resistance (if they aren’t used to it), but when they begin to comprehend a story and personally connect they will beg to hear another story. It opens up opportunities to discuss issues that are faced in school, with friends, or at home. Furthermore, they will begin to enjoy reading, which will encourage their academic development in all areas.
If you are a new mommy or daddy I encourage you to begin reading to your child right away. It seems odd to read to a newborn baby, but their exposure to your nurturing voice at bedtime can soothe them to sleep. As they grow and develop they will expect you to read to them. Flow and grow with them, if they want to read, give them the book to share with you. If they want you to read, read to them.
For those parents that haven't started reading to their children, it's okay. It is never to late to share the joy of reading with your child. To start, here are several recommendations: take your child to the public library or to a bookstore, allow them to show you what books they are interested in, set up chart that gives them a reading goal to encourage a routine of reading (intrinsic rewards are better than extrinsic), give them time to read to you, if they have younger siblings empower them to read to their younger siblings.
Reading with my child and sharing what I read is a gateway to building relationships with others. It builds our vocabulary, broadens our imagination, lifts our heart, builds connections, and relaxes and moves our soul. The living Word is a beautiful place to start as a parent; read a Psalm and share the beautiful words with your child in the morning.
Access to many great resources for literature specific to your child’s needs and interests are available online.