Children and Reading
When I was young, reading was not my favorite subject in school. I read because my teachers told me to or if I had to do a book report. Throughout my academic years, reading felt like a chore. After many years, I discovered my preferred genre and I ENJOY it immensely. As an educator and parent, I understand the importance of helping children find the joys of reading at a very early age.
The benefits of reading are endless. Here are just some that I would like to mention:
Reading helps children…
- strengthen their imagination
- calm them before they sleep
- increase their vocabulary
- write stories
- learn new information
- be storytellers and researchers
Recently, a very close friend of mine, Robert Edgar, stopped by AIS to visit. Robert is a literacy coach and I had the opportunity to sit down with him and chat about reading. We chatted about parent misconceptions about reading.
My child is able to read the book fluently and can tell me about the book. This is a very popular belief among parents who see their child as a strong reader. When we read stories or novels, we are doing more than summarizing the story. Readers constantly connect with characters by understanding their feelings and making sense of their actions. Readers predict what is going to happen next by using clues left by the author. Most importantly, we must remember what we do as adult readers and model that thinking for our children.
Picture books are for younger readers. The joy of watching your child grow as a reader from picture books to chapter books is extraordinary. You are ecstatic and want to build a library full of chapter books for your “grown-up reader”. Children who begin to read chapter books still benefit from reading picture books. Picture books help children strengthen their visualization skills to help them “make movies” in their minds and understand the characters in the story.
My child is not young anymore and does not need to be read aloud to. When a parent reads aloud and discusses the book with their child, it allows the child to see an adult’s interpretation of the book. In addition, reading aloud builds vocabulary and fluency. Parents are able to authentically ask questions as they read aloud and have a genuine conversation about the selection. Reading with your child also models your love of reading. The time you spend with them reading is meaningful.
Audiobooks are not “real books”. As technology changes our world, audiobooks are becoming more popular. Audiobooks are great for people who do not have the time to sit down and read but want to enjoy a great book. It is totally acceptable for children to listen to audiobooks. Children are able to create images and movies in their mind from the words that are being read to them. Audiobooks can help children understand stories better because they do not have the stress of decoding words they do not know. They can help a child increase their vocabulary and improve fluency.
My child should be reading books at his/her reading level. This is a popular parent misconception of children who attend school. Teachers use levels to observe and monitor students and their progress in reading. They work with children to improve their reading so they can enjoy more challenging books. We must remember that books are not always leveled. We should encourage children to read to expose them to all types of literature. Therefore, it is important to work with our children to recognize “just right books”.
Teaching reading skills and a love for reading is both challenging and rewarding. We need to make time to read with our children. The memories and conversations you have with your children while reading together are irreplaceable.
“The afterlife of reading is the only thing that matters.”
-Lucy Calkins, Author