Raising a reader is a goal that all Black parents should strive to achieve. I can remember as a child always being told to go read a book, it is good for you. No one ever told me at that time why reading was good for me. Why is reading aloud to young children important? What is there to be gained for your teenagers from reading? Does reading really matter?
Reading is a fundamental part of life. Take a minute to think about your daily activities and how much of them involve reading. We are reading… newspapers, text messages, facebook, instructions, signs, e-mails, medication, directions, menus, stories…Imagine being a youth with weak reading and comprehension skills. This would impede one’s ability to understand the things happening in the education system, to learn new things and to thrive in this world without being at the mercy of others.
Parents who routinely read to a young child are developing a close relationship with that child while engaging in an enjoyable shared activity that is conducive to developing reading skills more easily. Reading out loud to children prepares them for learning how to read. They will gain a richer vocabulary, improve pronunciation, develop the ability to express oneself, acquire a longer attention span and learn to follow a plot and comprehend a story. Remember reading is fun therefore stories should be entertaining and it doesn’t matter if the child understands fully what is being read. This simple practice will increase the chances of your child becoming a reader and better prepares them for learning at an early age.
Children usually need to be encouraged to read. The love of books is something that is innate for some but for most it needs to be developed. By the age of eight most parents will be able to tell if they have raised a reader or not. Although, it becomes more challenging to develop strong reading habits once a child enters the teen years it is not impossible. This is where it becomes important for you to be an example for your child and allow them to see you engaging in the love of reading. It is never a good idea to try to force a child to read. This is negative reinforcement. Pushing your child to read a book that you think is good for them or that is beyond their comprehension will only hurt the process. Reading should be viewed as a pleasurable experience that can entertain, stimulate and educate. The key is to find books about topics of interest to the child. Be patient and consistent in your encouragement. Share your excitement about the books you are reading. Inspire your older children by making sure they have access to plenty of enjoyable reading material that you can discuss with them… and most importantly don’t give up.
There are so many ways reading impacts our lives in early childhood, our teenage years, young adulthood and throughout the rest of our lives. It is an important source of enjoyment and knowledge that can affect the quality of life that we live. A reader develops creativity, an imagination and the ability to think critically. A reader develops strong reading comprehension skills and a diverse vocabulary enhancing self -confidence and building self-esteem. These attributes will remove most obstacles to the vast amount of knowledge and ideas in existence. No matter how you define success a reader develops the skills, habits, and abilities necessary to attain it. Encourage a child today, direct them to the wonderful world of reading and bestow upon them one of life’s greatest gifts. The time is now to nurture this wonderful source of knowledge and pleasure in a child; open a book.
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