“Whose mommies and daddies read to you, everynight before bed?” I asked my girls . A sprinkling of hands went up. “Whose mommies and daddies read to you before you started Grade 1.'” Just a few more hands went up. I noticed that most of the girls who were still being read to, were good readers themselves. Those who never had stories read to them were making slower progress.
The mistake that many parents make is – Now that my child is reading – I needn’t read to her any more. She must read on her own – she needs to practise.
We talk to our babies before they can understand the words we say – and very soon they’re talking too. It’s the same with reading – first we read because they can’t read themselves but we must continue. Read books to your children that have a more advanced vocabulary and watch how their use of language improves. There are many advantages of reading to your child.
- It’s a wonderful way to get your child into bed and settled for the night.
- It’s a special togetherness time – sit close to your child and let her see the words and pictures as you read.
- Your child will be hearing well-written English which will contribute to her gaining good language skills.
- You can use the story for life lessons and discussions.
- Books, both fiction and nonfiction, teach general knowledge.
- New worlds are opened for you both to share.
Let reading to your child become part of her bedtime routine. Make sure radios and television are off when you read to your child and make it a special time – do not let any digital devices interfere with this time. Put your phone on silent!
What should we be reading to our children? Take them to the library and show them the array of books in the children’s section and let them choose! Some children really love nonfiction so don’t neglect that. Let them browse through a nonfiction book and let it be more of a question and answer session rather than reading it from cover to cover.
There are many modern children’s authors writing wonderful stories with fantastic illustrations but don’t forget the old fashioned fairy tales. The girls in my class love The Three Little Pigs and Cinderella as much as the children who I taught from past generations did. Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh – just never go out of style.
Here is my very short suggestion list – there are so many books out there but in my book these are compulsory reading.
Beatrix Potter – Peter Rabbit + all her other books
The Brothers Grimm – All their fairy tales
Ludwig Bemelmans – Madeline
Rudyard Kipling – The Just So Stories
Enid Blyton – The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree
I read to my girls at school as often as possible. I read stories that we as Grade One teachers have decided on together as well as books the girls bring that they want to share. We all enjoy the stories. But this is not a substitute for Mom and Dad reading to a child. There is not the same intimacy, bonding and sharing. Start the habit now. If time runs out – leave the homework – Read to your child!