In My View - Snuggle up and read

Denise Reed
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There is no doubt the ability to read is crucial if our children are to make a success of their lives. There can be few better ways to improve a child's chances at school, and beyond, than to instil in them a love of reading.

So how can we ensure that our little ones will grow up to be readers? It is really quite simple ... we just read to them! As Emilie Buchwald said, 'Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.'

Firstly, reading is fun and a wonderful bonding experience. It stimulates children's language development, enhances their vocabulary, increases their attention span and develops listening skills and imagination. Even at a very young age, they will start to learn that print stands for words and that pages are read from top-to-bottom and left-to-right, all very important pre-reading skills. More than anything else, reading to young children instils in them the desire to read and a genuine love of books.

Reading aloud to children used to be seen as a parent's duty, but sadly in today's world of hectic living and busy schedules, computers and TV, it is increasingly taking a back seat. But the great thing about reading aloud is that it does not require specialist skills or expensive equipment, just you, your baby and a book. Part of the challenge for parents is finding the time, but just ten minutes each day is enough.

The key to success is to read little and often. Include nursery rhymes too, as tragically these are disappearing from our language. Research has shown that children who struggle with rhymes will more than likely later struggle with reading, so provide your children with opportunities to develop an appreciation for rhyme and rhythm by reading nursery rhymes and poems to them.

It is never too late to introduce books into a child's life. So, encourage parents to turn off the TV and the laptop, forget the housework and snuggle up with their child and a good book.

Denise Reed is a school librarian and nursery nurse, Hurstpierpoint College, and on the SLA's School Librarian of the Year Honours List 2010.

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