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Reading Fun for Little Learners

If you have a young child, you’re probably already reading to him. Each March, schools and libraries across the U.S. host activities that encourage reading to children to celebrate Read Across America Day, March 2, Dr. Seuss's birthday.
 

These tips from reading experts can add fun when you read to a young child any day of the year.
 

Babies Will Eat Them Up

Start young! Newborns listen and react to voices and music. They love to hear the beat and tone of your voice. “I read to both my children the day we came home from the hospital,” says Jean Thorpe, a reading specialist at Roberts Elementary School in Wayne, PA. Start with colorful board or cloth books.

Tips for Toddlers

Don’t worry if your rambunctious toddler wants to stand, dance or hop while you read — as long as she’s listening, it counts! Thorpe offers these other tips.

• Keep the reading time short.
• Read more than once a day.
• Talk about the pictures in the books. Ask questions, but don’t over do it!
• Have sturdy board and cloth books  that kids can “read” on their own if you have to take a break.
• Re-read the same books over and over again. You may get bored but your child won’t!
• Make mistakes on purpose. Toddlers love catching you saying wrong words.
• It’s okay if you don’t always get through an entire book.

Elementary-Age Enjoyment

Pleasure Reading =
School Success

Research has found that children who are read to and who read for pleasure are significantly more successful in school than children who do not.

“When children enjoy reading, they are better able to encounter the world around them,” says Laura Thompson, a reading specialist and instructional coach at Red Clay Consolidated School District, headquartered in Wilmington, DE. “That sounds really abstract, but from books, kids learn vicariously. They learn about animals, policemen, outer space or dinosaurs.

It’s much easier to get children to read when they choose the book. Say “okay!” to graphic novels, sports magazines, comic strips or Henry and Mudge.

One big mistake parents make is thinking “children become better readers by reading books that are too challenging,” says Thorpe. When your child reads, help him select books that are “just right” (not too hard, not too easy). Ask your child’s teacher or local librarian for help.

“Avoid books with gimmicks,” says Terri Dicesare, owner and director of The House at Pooh Corner/Child’s Conceptions day care in Philadelphia. “Children should use their imagination and listen to the story.”

If your child claims not to like reading, TV or computer games could be the culprit. Set aside time in the day specifically for reading, together or separately.

Deb Dellapena is a local freelance writer.

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