Reading to Children
by Carol Lotz-Felix, Day Care Literacy Project Chair
The bond that develops between a parent and child while sharing books is so rewarding and important. Researchers of the learning process believe that the child’s ability to read is heavily influenced by the enjoyment the child feels during this early reading experience. Most parents use book reading as the interlude that ends the day and smooths the separation at bedtime.
When I read to young children I don’t expect them to understand every word or be able to tell me all that happened in the story. My goal is to make books fun, to develop a positive experience and to expand vocabulary. I seldom read every word – I TELL the story, I emphasize the character’s feelings with different voices; I point to various pictures and I try to relate the action to their lives. Sometimes I am reading a book about one thing and the child is fixated on a picture or character that is not important like airplanes or cars but he is involved, that is all that counts.
As children begin to read, every word must be read. Children can read every other page or even all of a small book with assistance. It should not become a chore. Many early readers do not like being corrected. Maybe you can set up a signal like a raised finger when the child wants help and otherwise try to restrain from jumping in. They will still be using picture books so take time to look at the art work before the page is read.
Adults think they can stop reading to children after they are fairly proficient readers but experts disagree. Your child can understand at a higher level than they can read and this is when they get bored and stop being an avid reader. At eight or nine you should begin to read some good classics a chapter a day. I suggest Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Jungle Books, The Wizard of Oz, Swiss Family Robinson, Moby Dick, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Anansi Tales, or a book you remember from your childhood. Remember the story is not as important as the experience so keep it enjoyable for both of you.
Reading is fun, broadens your horizons, helps you to understand how others deal with situations, expands your world view. Your child needs to see that you also enjoy reading for yourself as a regular part of your day, while waiting in an office, while riding the bus, before you go to sleep – be a role model.