March is Read Across America month, an event that celebrates children reading and the birthday of beloved author, Dr. Seuss! At the ECLC, we will be spending the month talking about Dr. Seuss, fairy tales, libraries, our favorite books, and maybe even writing a few stories of our own! Reading with children is also the theme of our family night this month, which will be Thursday, March 30th. We hope you will join us!
Why is reading with your child important?
So many reasons! Such as . . .
- It builds and nurtures parent/child bonds
- It’s fun
- It enriches your child’s vocabulary by exposing them to words and sentence structure they may not hear in speech alone
- It exposes them to new ideas and helps build creativity
- It promotes brain development
- Strong literacy skills can help promote later academic success
- It increases their phonic awareness
- It can help to foster a life-long love of reading
When should I read to my child?
Ideally, you should read to your child every day. Think of it like eating vegetables or brushing your teeth; something that is part of your everyday life. Your child will probably find reading a book with you more fun that eating broccoli.
Adding reading to your bedtime routine is a great way to get some book time in every day and help your child wind down for the evening. Besides being educational, spending some time each day sharing a story with your child is a great way to bond and will create lasting memories for both of you.
There are plenty of books out there! As long as you are reading with your kiddo, you’re in good shape, but here are a few suggestions for choosing books.
What is your child interested in? If your child is old enough to tell you about what they want to read about, look for books on that subject. For younger children, what captures their interest? Do they obsess over their train toy? Grab a few train books. Are they always hanging out in the kitchen? There are books for that! Whatever catches your child’s fancy, you can be sure there are some excellent books on the subject.
What are you interested in teaching your child? Is there something going on in your child’s life that you want to prepare them for or an area where they need some help? Reading books about it can be a great tool for teaching your kiddo. Trying to potty train? Facing a divorce? Got a new baby on the way? Moving to a new house? Dealing with the death of a loved one? Trying to teach your child manners? There are books on every possible subject that your child may need. Ask a librarian or do some Googling if there’s a specific topic you are looking for.
Ask your child’s teacher There is a lot of book-reading that goes on at the ECLC. Your child’s teacher can tell you what books the class has been reading lately or what books are especially popular. Some children get really excited to see a favorite book from school at home and vice versa.
Aim for variety Your child (especially toddlers) might request the same book over and over and over again. This is actually a good thing; many of our ELCE classrooms read the same book at group time for a week. Children enjoy being “in the know” about the plot and characters and repeated readings allow them to take in the vocabulary. It is also important to read children lots of different kinds of books; fiction, non-fiction, poetry, alliterative, rhyming and anything else you can find. Not only does it save you from the tedium of reading the same book a million times, but it also exposes your child to all different kinds of stories and broadens their understanding about the world.
Chose your favorite books
You probably can think of some books you enjoyed as a little kid. Bust them out again to share with your child! They will likely enjoy knowing that you read this same book when you were their age.
How to read to your child
Well, you probably have a pretty good idea of how to read to your child already. You just sit down and do it! But there are a few things you can do with your kiddo to enrich the experience.
- Ask your child questions about the characters and plot, such as “What do you think is going to happen next?” or “How do you think this character is feeling?” It will get their wheels turning, encourage them to think creatively and help them develop empathy.
- Point out things like words that rhyme or are alliterative. These are pre-literacy skills that will come in handy when they are learning to read.
- Talk about vocabulary. Your child might ask what a particular word means, but if you come across a word you suspect your child doesn’t know the meaning of, ask them! If they don’t know what the word means, you can explain it. This helps expand their vocabulary.
Reading With Older Children
As children get older, parent read aloud time tends to diminish sharply at the ages of 5 and again at 8, but there is a lot to be gained by continuing to read aloud to your children, even after your child can read to themselves. Reading chapter books together is a wonderful, easy and inexpensive way to have fun as a family. There are lots of great books out there to tackle, but here is a list if you are looking for some suggestions or consider starting with a chapter book you loved when you were their age.
If it’s been a while since you were at your local library, this is a great month to make a trip! Libraries are obviously a great place to go to discover some great new books (and movies and music), but they also offer all sorts of other great activities and resources for free. Our own Hamline Midway library offers a preschool story time (in English) every Friday at 10:30 am. Check them out in April when every Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm they will be offering a pajama story time.
The Rice Street library also offers a Friday morning preschool story time at 10:30 am, and many other fun events for all ages, like an adult movie night, homework help, crafting classes, a weekly after school program for elementary school kids, basic computer skills classes, job search assistance, and much more. Check out other libraries in St. Paul for story time in other languages, legal assistance, technology classes, teen movie nights, knitting classes, citizenship classes and much, much more! See the full schedule of St. Paul libraries here. Use the pull down menu at the top to filter by location, events and age groups.
Have a great March!