"at your library" in the north island eagle: is your child ready to read?

In our local paper.

At Your Library: Is Your Child Ready to Read?

Kindergarten is a child’s introduction to school – but your children’s education begins long before they ever set foot in a classroom.

At The Library: Is Your Child Ready to Read?

Teachers and librarians talk about something called “reading readiness”. A child who is ready to read begins kindergarten set up for success. A child who doesn’t have reading readiness may begin school already struggling.

Here’s another way to look at it. Children who do well in school have more options, better life chances. How do children do well in school? By being strong readers. How do children become strong readers? By beginning school with reading readiness, then continuing to read throughout their school years. And how do children become ready to read? Through their parents and caregivers.

Helping your child become ready to read is not difficult. You may be already doing it without even realizing it. Here are five ways parents and caregivers can help children become ready to read.

* Talking *
Talking to your children, letting them hear your voice as you go about your daily life, helps children learn language – and language is a key to reading readiness. When your baby babbles to you, talk back!

If you speak more than one language, speak to your child in the language you are most comfortable with, the one in which you have the biggest vocabulary. Hearing lots of different words helps children get ready to read.

* Singing *
Singing and rhyming helps children learn the sound of words. Sing to your baby! Play rhyming games. Sing silly songs, or songs your parents taught you. Your children love to hear your voice.

* Playing *
Kids learn through play. Play helps children understand words and concepts. Children learn more when parents and caregivers join in. So put down your phone and pick up a toy!

* Writing *
When your child scribbles and draws, they are getting ready to read. All you need is a crayon and a piece of paper. Write your child’s name and help them copy it. Write the alphabet and sing it!

* Reading *
I saved the most important one for last. Reading together is the best way to help your child get ready to read.
When you read with your child, they learn what books are, how pages turn, what letters look like. They hear stories and associate those stories with the letters and words on the page.

It’s never too early! Parents and caregivers should even read to babies. Their growing minds soak up language. You can’t see it, but they are becoming ready to read!

I encourage you to read with your child every day. Make it part of your routine together, like brushing your teeth – but more fun.

Many parents struggle with reading. If you find reading difficult, reading with your child will improve your own skills, too. Your child will enjoy the experience just as much.

The staff at your library can help you find books that your child will enjoy. Enjoying reading together will be crucial to your child’s reading readiness.

Just for good measure, I’ll repeat what I said in my previous column. Children whose parents read to them do better in school – and children who do better in school have greater life chances. So when you read to your child, you are setting them up for success, in school and in life.

Next column: what should school-age children read?


Amy said...

Great advice. My mother read to me, we read to my daughters, my daughter and son-in-law read to our grandsons. The four year old is already reading---has a large sight word vocabulary. And no one had to teach him---he just was interested in letters and numbers from an early age and "read" along with his parents until the words became familiar.

One of my retirement activities is a reading program (I probably told you this). I read to a class of third graders once a month, and then each child gets their own (different) chapter book to keep. Seeing how excited they get from receiving a book still moves me. My kids and grandsons take it for granted that they have lots of books and only get excited by toys. The kids I read to take nothing for granted.

laura k said...

I did know you were doing that, it sounds like a great program -- except I wish the library didn't need volunteers. It's the same here. There is a local literacy society that coordinates volunteers to do storytimes. I hate it but it's a necessity.

Who funds the book donations?

Amy said...

It is actually not through the library. It's an independent non-profit that coordinates with area schools. It's just called Link to Libraries---because the idea is to have each child build his/her own personal library. The organization is supported by individual volunteers and donors and local businesses. So no library jobs are sacrificed...

laura k said...

That's the same here, the literacy society is a local nonprofit. From my perspective though, the idea that jobs are not lost is disingenuous. If libraries were fully staffed, there would be enough staff to deliver all the storytimes and more.

Jobs are not lost at the current staffing levels, but that level is inadequate to deliver full services -- thus the need for the nonprofit.

I'm not implying that volunteers themselves are the problem. Your volunteering is extremely valuable and commendable -- and I work with volunteers, too -- I have no choice. But these extra unpaid workers allow library systems (and the governments that fund them) to get away with artificially low staffing levels.

Amy said...

Just curious and not to be argumentative---do you think if I (and the other volunteers in my program) were not going into the public schools to read that libraries, assuming they had the funding, would be providing story time in public schools? Not all children have parents who can or will take them to a library for story time. And to me the more reading children are exposed to the better, and I guess I don't see how having someone come to a classroom to read in any way replaces or supplants the services a library would provide even if it had the funding.

laura k said...

No, I most certainly do not think that. Quite the opposite. Without volunteers many children would never be read to. Literacy is incredibly important and paid staff should be providing this very valuable service. It shouldn't depend on volunteers.

I think it's ludicrous that for volunteers to be providing library services.

laura k said...

...And for teachers to buy their own supplies, and etc.

laura k said...

Also I didn't mean YOU were being disingenuous, in case that wasn't clear! Cities and other employers (magazines that use unpaid interns as editors, for example) say that volunteers are augmenting, not replacing, staff. But that's because of gross understaffing.

Amy said...

Well, I certainly agree that the abuse of interns is completely wrong---unpaid labor in exchange for giving them experience and something on their resume is just not right. Especially in a corporate setting.

And although I don't buy into the old Bush "points of light" theory as a substitute for government support of people in need, I do think that there is a real value in encouraging volunteerism. It not only provides more services to those in need than might otherwise be available---it also enriches the community when people from different racial, social, and economic groups work together without money as an incentive.

I think the children I read to understand and appreciate that I am there because I want to be, not to earn money. Even third graders can sense the difference. That doesn't mean that volunteers are as good as professionals or that we shouldn't be providing more paid staff in schools and libraries. Of course, we should. But there should always be room for those who want to contribute without being paid.

laura k said...

There is definitely great value in volunteering. I've done a lot of volunteer work, and would recommend the experience to anyone.

But not every context is appropriate for volunteers. There is room for volunteers in the public library, but if it were up to me, that would never overlap with anything trained library staff does.

Magazines using unpaid interns are especially galling in that these so-called internships have replaced entry-level jobs AND the publications feel no special obligation to hire the intern when their placement ends. They just replace them with another intern.

Ontario finally made that illegal, although I have no doubt Doug Ford will bring it back.