Reading With Your Child
Start Young and Stay With It

(Part 1 of a 2 part article)

             At just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice and point to objects on cardboard pages. Guide your child by pointing to the pictures and say the names of various objects. By drawing attention to pictures and associating words with both pictures and real-world objects, your child will learn the importance of language.

            Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the existence of printed words on a page. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. When the rhythm and melody of language become a part of a child’s life, learning to read will be as natural as learning to walk and talk.

            Even after children learn to read by themselves, it’s still important for you to read aloud together. By reading stories that are on their interest level, but beyond their reading level, you can stretch young readers’ understanding and motivate them to improve their skills.

It’s Part of Life

            Although the life of a parent is often hectic, you should try to read with your child at least once a day at a regularly scheduled time. But don’t be discouraged if you skip a day or don’t always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.

            If you have more than one child, try to spend some time reading alone with each child, especially if they’re more than two years apart. However, it’s fine to read to children at different stages and ages at the same time. Most children enjoy listening to many types of stories. When stories are complex, children can still get the idea and can be encouraged to ask questions. When stories are easy or familiar youngsters enjoy these “old friends” and may even help in the reading.

            Taking time to read with your children on a regular basis sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile.