Reading aloud to your child is an important part of family time that promotes parent-child bonding, brings balance to hectic family life and prepares your child for a lifetime of learning. Most experts recommend reading to your children daily, even to infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading at least a few minutes per day starting at birth.
So why the focus on early reading? Most studies show several benefits to regular reading in children including improved bonding with parents, better performance in all aspects of education (even math!), improvement in basic speech and communication skills, better logical thinking and better concentration.
Here are some tips for reading and resources that will make the experience fun for you and your child at every age:
Play pat-a-cake and other silly games that associate words with objects.
Use brightly colored books with simple shapes and familiar objects (Bright Baby books are a good example).
Get waterproof books to use in the bathtub.
Toddlers are on the go so have realistic expectations of how long they will sit and listen.
Choose books that are engaging like those with flaps or different textures to touch and keep their hands busy.
Keep reading times short, simple and often!
For school-aged kids:
Keep reading to your child, even when they know how – help them with books that are too difficult or long for them to read alone.
Read books with chapters and talk about what is happening. Have your child make predictions about what will happen next – this will keep them engaged and they will look forward to the next reading time.
Talk with your child about the types of books they like, authors they might like and get books that fit into those categories.
Community/Online Resources for Promoting Reading:
Reach Out and Read – some of our UTMB pediatric clinics have a Reach Out and Read Program. Through this program, children receive a new book at every checkup from age 6 months to 5 years. Some clinics also have a used book exchange by Half Priced Books where children coming in for sick visits can take a used book and bring back/donate books they may not need or want anymore.
Local Libraries – most libraries in this area have literacy programs for children. For example, Moore Public Library in Texas City has Toddlerific Story Time, Preschool Story Time and other age-specific activities to promote reading in all ages. Contact your local library for more information on the services that location provides.
Scholastic – www.scholastic.com – You can find reading tips, book lists, school help, activities and printables on this website. You can also join their reading club and shop their online store for age appropriate books.
Your pediatrician can also provide information regarding local resources and current recommendations regarding reading and literacy promotion.
Learn about the power of story time!
Dr. Adri Smith is a UTMB Pediatrician at Pediatric Primary Care, Texas City