By Theresa Lutz, Program Coordinator, Maryland EXCELS
Siblings leaving breadcrumbs in the forest, a running gingerbread cookie, a hen baking bread, a plate of green breakfast food, a bear family and a spooky tree…these are all fond memories of my childhood reading. What are your memories? Do you have warm thoughts of reading when you were a child? If you do not have memories of reading, don’t you want to be the one that gives those memories to the children in your care? Whatever our memories are, it is our job as parents or as program providers to give the children in our lives the joy of reading.
Not only is reading pleasurable, but it also necessary. We read in our daily lives. Reading is inevitable. We read cookbooks, the Internet, magazines, road-signs, and directions. Reading books with children, as early as infancy, will help develop necessary skills, such as building vocabulary and stimulating language development, not to mention strengthening your relationships with the children in your care. Having children in your care read twice a day is important to his/her cognitive, social, and emotional development.
How can you find time to read twice a day in your program? First, you can reduce or cut out television viewing and replace it with reading. And remember, you do not always have to be the leader. Children need opportunities to experience books on their own. While you are cleaning up snack or lunch, children can have time to explore the books on your bookshelves. Babies will mouth the corners of your board books; preschoolers may tell the story looking at the illustrations; and kindergarteners may be using a combination of pictures and words. After rest time, you can gather and read a story aloud. Make sure you are rotating the books on your shelf. Children will get bored easily if your books are always the same.
Having a variety of books at your fingertips is a must in order to keep your children motivated. Your books should be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. They should also appeal to boys and girls alike. Purchasing books can become expensive. Visit community yard sales and your neighborhood thrift store. Access your libraries website, too. See if they offer a drive-up window or a book mobile.
Make sure reading is a priority in your home or child care program, and the children in your care will develop a life-long love of reading.