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March 17, 2010 > Read, Read, Read

Read, Read, Read

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By courtesy of LeapFrog

Picture it: a baby snuggling with mom and listening to her reading a simple story, a dad sharing a picture book with his toddler, or a second grader reading a book to his family. Each of these behaviors can help a child learn to love reading.

Language is vital to learning. Reading is one step. Oral language is another. Drawing promotes small motor skills, which enhances writing ability. Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a literacy expert for LeapFrog, advocates reading to and with the child(ren) five minutes, 20 minutes, or an hour daily. This is the basis of children's reading development.

Dr. Jaynes suggests these fun tips to use with children. "Bring the story to life. 'Voice' the characters. Add drama to the narration." The content of the story is important.

"Encourage active reading," says Jaynes, "by asking them to talk about what they are reading. What do you think will happen next? What did you think about that character's decision?"

Beyond the home, the public libraries, Alameda County branches (Fremont Main), Hayward Public Libraries, and Milpitas offer a variety of reading programs for all ages, including family story times. Children's library sections are a great resource. One library user, a stay-at-home mom of a three year old, uses the library often. Her son enjoys watching Meet the Sight Words DVD on the library computer. She has been reading aloud to him since he was six months old, beginning with pictures books. Now he has progressed to more advanced books. Another patron, a dad of a four-year-old daughter, has read to her nightly, beginning when she was aged two-and-a- half. He understands the value of book time. Find the library programs in your neighborhood by checking out the websites listed at the end of this article.

A local authority on literacy is Evelyn Simmons, a preschool teacher with 26 years experience, now retired. She emphasizes the key to reading is "read, red, read." Encourage the child to recognize words he sees when walking or riding (environmental reading). Stop, slow, bank, school, street are common examples. When the child learns to read, do not stop reading to him. Expand the circle to include the whole family. Share reading and increase oral language development. Talk about the story and relate it to personal life experiences. Make it good fun.

Here are more points from Dr. Carolyn Jaynes. One is to "talk and listen, explain things and ask questions, sing songs and make up simple chants." The second is giving children varied activities and experiences. Simple options are going to the grocery store by a different route and discussing the new things you see, checking out a new section in the library with topics that enthrall your child, or taking a walk to a new park, again talking about what is different. Number three is to recognize the value of modeling behaviors and attitudes for your children. These are powerful teachers.

Dr. Jaynes makes a further recommendation. "With these three important points in mind, above all, strive to honor your child's natural gift for play by keeping it fun, being open to a little spontaneity or goofiness, and remembering that helping your child recognize the fun and value of words and language invites them to follow a path filled with lifelong readers."

Drawing is valuable in aiding small motor development and oral language. Dr. Jaynes learned from personal experience how to discuss a child's drawing. One year, as a camp counselor, she commented on a camper's drawing of an elephant. The child told her emphatically that it was a cat. From then on, she phrased the question, "What can you tell me about your drawing?" This is a good tip for parents, teachers, and caregivers.

Reading is fun and a worthy entertainment. Television and other technological tools are also enjoyable. Moderation is desired, however. Parents can help the child balance their pleasures. The more reading is encouraged, the better. Worthy of repetition is this concept. When the child learns to read, the dynamics change. The family can share the delight of story time and storytelling.

Technology can "enhance early learning skills," according to Dr. Jaynes. DVDs teaching word recognition are among many available learning games for early literacy computers at local libraries. LeapFrog has a Tag Reading System that gives an interactive experience. Children enjoy hearing fun sound effects, imagine the next step in the story's plot, and, last but not least, listen to music. Dr. Jaynes states "Studies show it is important to keep reading fun and children engaged through a variety of tools." Again, parents can be innovative and creative in encouraging literacy. The basic means to this end is to be involved.

Reading can be fun for all, children, parents, and grandparents. Reading is rewarding Perhaps you can adopt this motto: READ, READ, and READ.

Library Websites

Alameda County Libraries

Hayward Public Library

Milpitas Library

More Literacy Information
Click on the learning team.

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