by Kathy StemkeReading is a fundamental lifetime skill that will bring a child immeasurable enjoyment over the years. By singing, talking, reciting rhymes and reading to young children we help their brains to form the links that are essential to learning all language skills. In fact, it is in the
first three years, when the brain grows to 90% of its adult weight that children have the greatest capacity to learn to read.
During this time it is important to form the habit of reading daily to your children. Be dramatic and animated to hold their attention. Use unique and funny voices for each character.
Point to the words you read so that your child associates the pictures and sounds of the book with the letters on each page. Sound out a few simple words. As you read, point out the similarities in the words. Act amazed, as if you found a beautiful jewel. Enthusiasm is contagious.
If you make reading a priority, children will consider it important as well. Create a warm, cozy corner of their room just for reading. Include a bookcase full of great fiction and nonfiction books as well as periodicals. Decorate this corner with pictures that they draw of the books they read. You could even make a caterpillar and add a segment each month
with the book titles they read that month.
Be aware of reading levels and choose books with appropriate levels for your child. One of the biggest turn-offs for children is the frustration they feel when they struggle to read a book which is above their level of reading.
Children feel so grownup when they get mail. Why not sign them up for an age appropriate magazine that comes in the mail monthly.
"O Say Can You Say" by Dr. Seuss teaches a child the silliness of words and rhymes. As you falter over the words, do it with laughter so children will learn that if you read a word incorrectly, it's not time to quit.
Keeping children engaged in the stories, and including fun activities in their reading experience are also important keys to nurturing a love of reading in young children.
Since play is how children learn, play with letters, sounds and words. Play games with sight words too. For instance, draw a road with sight words printed on it. Use a toy car to drive to each word. Have them repeat the word after you so they can drive on to the finish line. Give them an award. When children master many sight words, reading becomes easier.
Use puppets to create interest. Make your own puppets inexpensively. Buy stuffed animals at a thrift store or yard sale, remove some stuffing and add a sock to the inside. Allow the child to act out the story with the puppet.
Take a trip to the local library. Get involved in a story time for children. The librarians introduce fun games and activities associated with books. Encourage your child to explore the children's section of the library.
Make personalized books. Allowing children to become the main character or a hero in the book will definitely keep them hooked to it. Photograph them during their daily activities and create a wordless book. Foster creativity by permitting them to tell their own story.
Make books on fruits and vegetables. Plan a trip to the supermarket. Have your child take pictures of different fruits and vegetables. Children love to touch, feel and smell the different fruits and vegetables. They can also compare the size and weight.
There are an infinite number of ways that you can make books come alive for young children. Once they get the book bug, they will always want to read.
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