A few years ago, I was introduced to a quote from author Emilie Buchwald:
‘Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.’
This is perhaps the simplest way to describe the opportunity and responsibility we all have as parents to nurture a love of reading in our children. These words inspired me as a parent, a bookseller and led to a presentation I did at the New York Baby Show last month on Raising a Reader.
Over the course of this summer, I’ll share some of the key points…
Read every day…
It’s part of a global literacy campaign here at Scholastic but needs to be a HABIT in your home. Setting just 20 minutes aside each day to read with your young child, you will foster listening skills, curiosity and give your child a strong foundation for future reading skills. A child who has been read to for 20 minutes each day will enter Kindergarten with over 600 hours of literacy experience. That experience can have a huge effect on future academic performance!
But it all isn’t about academic performance. Reading every day establishes routine. In my family, we read after bathtime. It’s a simple, comforting way to add literacy to our bedtime routine, which is the most consistent time in our house. (Our morning routine varies because of work schedules.) Some other families might find that mid-day is the perfect time for stories. It doesn’t matter what time it is. What matters is that reading is part of the routine. Choose a reading time that works for your family and schedule but STICK TO IT!
Your reading time is also a bonding time. For years, I knew that books created a link between parents and children but it wasn’t until I began reading with my own daughter that I realized the powerful link created by a book read on a lap. The repetition and routine shows your child’s growth, their likes and dislikes but most importantly, your daily investment opens new windows into their understanding of the world. I know that Lydia not only has favorite books and pages but also favorite sounds, voices and responses. I can see that she is able to identify specific objects on the page now. This is a big step up from her initial response to just mirrors or textures. (While reading Dog Breath last week, she pointed at Hally and said ‘dyat’, which is her universal word for our dogs and cats. I nearly leapt in joy.) The consistency of our reading time together has helped spotlight these small changes (that are in fact pretty big changes!) and help me be a better parent to her.