Read to Your Child: Doctor’s Orders!
By Megan Sheridan, Children’s Librarian
Has your child’s doctor told you to read to your little one? If not, maybe you’ve heard about this; the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised pediatricians to urge parents and caregivers to read to their children (read the article). Why are some doctors doing this? It’s because reading to children, especially ages 0 to 5, plays a crucial role in preparing them for success in school and in life. Reading to very young children is not about teaching them to read but getting them ready to read. The American Library Association (ALA) has built a program around this concept called Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR). As more and more data about the importance of Early Childhood Literacy has been published and analyzed, groups like The American Academy of Pediatrics and others are urging caregivers to read to their children.
You might be overwhelmed or even intimidated when an article, book or doctor tells you to read to your child. You might wonder “what books should I read to my little one(s)?” and “How do I prepare my child for Kindergarten?”
If you’ve asked yourself these questions; don’t worry! You’re probably already doing many things to get your child ready to read and if you’re not, it’s easy to start and never too late.
There are five activities to develop your child’s early literacy skills: Talk, Read, Sing, Write and Play. For a quick explanation of these activities and examples of how to do them visit this website from the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota. The five activities can be done in your daily routine. For example, simply talk to your child about the world around you and the activities you do every day. Talk about how pretty the white clouds are in the sky and how the cozy the blanket is. Don’t feel silly talking to your newborn when you’re changing her diaper or getting her bottle ready. The more your child hears you talk the more words she’ll learn and this is vital for early childhood literacy development.
If you, like most parents and caregivers, feel stretched for time and have a busy life, you might not get as much time to read with your children as you would like. That’s okay because you can still do reading activities without a book! Read street signs out loud as you pass them by in the car when your little one is in the back seat. Look at cereal boxes in the grocery store and read the names of the cereal out loud. Do this for infants too, and not just for toddlers and preschoolers.
By talking, reading, singing, writing and playing with your child every day she will not only be prepared for school and life but you will have fun together. And that’s one doctor’s order that is easy to follow!
- To find examples of great books to read to your child, visit Let’s Read on the Williamson County Public Library website and click on toddler and pre-school tabs on the right. This will bring up lists of books that are just right for children in the 0 to 5 range. We also have board books which are wonderful for babies and toddlers. Believe it or not, by giving your baby or toddler a board book and letting her play with it you’re getting her ready to read! Your baby is learning how to hold the book and turn the pages. These are the building blocks of literacy and it’s never too early to start teaching them to your baby. She might even put the book in her mouth and that’s okay! That’s how babies learn about the world around them.
Zero to Three has some great information about how to choose a book for babies, toddlers and families. There is also a more in depth explanation of early language and literacy development on their website.
- For more ideas on how to develop early literacy skills download the ACPL Family app, which is FREE! It has wonderful examples of how to do the five early literacy activities every day.
- The Library of Virginia has an easy to understand visual of the five Early Literacy activities. An image of a sun and a tree is used to illustrate the components of Early Childhood Literacy. The caregiver is the sun. He or she makes the difference in a child’s early literacy development. The fruit of the caregiver’s interactions with a child, of doing the five activities together, is that she will find it easier to learn to read. Click here for more explanation: