You want your child to be a good reader. You’ve already started thinking about his curling up on the couch (right next to or practically under you, as children often do) reading what was one of your favorites as a kid.
Wait a minute there, mom or dad. Your little one is still in diapers. It’s crazy to be thinking about her literacy now…or is it? NOT AT ALL! There are ways that beginning in pregnancy (Yes, when you still have a uterine inhabitant) you can help ensure a good reader.
It starts with a love of literature and all the related disciplines, such as art and music and pretend play. How can you begin now? Well firstly, don’t fret! Start with being an avid reader yourself and forgoing any high-brow snobbery 😉
Play music, read to your baby, and be animated in your interactions. Your goal is to share your excitement and appreciation for the world of fantasy that books offer. Kids, even babies, observe our every action. Be a positive role model. You don’t have to read classics if that’s not your thing! Read for enjoyment.
Starting in pregnancy and infancy, kids enjoy rhyming and over-the-top sounds. The rhythmic nature of a constant favorite, Dr. Seuss, grabs attention. Other similar titles, like the Llama Llama series have the same effect. They begin discerning sounds. As they grow, kids connect these sounds to letters and words.
Talk to your babies and kids-use a variety of words. Sing songs to them. Provide toys, such as blocks, that “build” representational understanding. It may seem unrelated, but part of raising a reader is helping children understand that letters are symbols. Blocks and pretend play are the foundation to thinking symbolically.
Encourage sensory play with magnetic letters, foam letter blocks, and play-doh. Describe what you are doing, sing the ABC’s, and make the sounds of the letters. Provide a literacy rich environment by labeling everything, having a writing center, and a reading corner. Even for pre-readers, having an accessible space for word discovery is important.
Take your children to story-times and the library. Get them books for their stockings and Easter baskets. You are the Santa Claus of books year-round!
There are so many great pieces of literature out there-start finding your favorites now to share and let your child’s love of reading flourish from infancy to adulthood.