By: A.K. Karos -
Long before the TV, video game consoles, and even the radio, reading was the gold standard for entertainment. When The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published back in 1876, it was not uncommon to see a well-worn yet well-loved copy of the book sticking out of the back pocket of a kid skipping rocks down by a river or being read on the sidewalk in a New York borough. Imaginations filled with the wonders of the story and for many, it was a way to explore worlds they have never seen or known. By the end of the 1930’s, more than 70% of households had a radio and there were shows for all ages. By 1955, more than half of all U.S. households had the wonder of all wonders: a black and white tube TV. No longer did you have to imagine what the scenery in a book would look like. With the TV, it was there for you as clear as day. As the TV grew, the desire to read decreased.
Why is reading important?
Reading helps a child to build their vocabulary and improve their level of understanding. They must read (or hear they words if being read to) and then process the information. This builds up their ability to learn and understand concepts and vital information as they grow. Think of early reading like a tree system. The tree’s roots are underground and not seen, but a strong root system is needed for the tree to grow tall and strong. Like the tree, a child needs a strong root system (early and often reading) which will enable them to grow a strong vocabulary and language skills (Trunk and beautiful foliage).
How often should I read to my child?
The short answer is…as often as you can. Today’s world is a constant race that sees both parents working in most households and children doing more extracurricular activities than ever before. Finding time to sit and read a book to your child can seem almost impossible, but the value it has on the future of your child is immeasurable. The brains of a child develop most before they turn five years old, so get it in when you can.
You want what again?
This has either happened to you or will happen to you. There is no maybe about it. Your child will ask you to read the same book repeatedly and even read it back-to-back (and sometimes) to back again. It is okay. It is normal. It is a good thing. Repetition can help them to learn the story and even begin to read. Some think that they are only memorizing the book and not reading. Remember, reading is mainly memorizing words and how they sound and what they mean. Have them focus on different things each time you read it to get them to fully experience the book. They will move on eventually, but in the meantime, try and expand their library by introducing them to other books that are similar.
What did you just read?
Talk about the stories you just read. This helps to ensure that your child learns to not just read but comprehend what was just read. Reading comprehension has seen a big decrease in youth these days. With social media training kids to only read the headlines or minimal information, they are not reading as much and therefore are finding it difficult to focus on longer readings and as a result cannot retain the information in any detail.
Long Story Short
In the end, the most important thing is to teach your child that reading does not have to be a chore but is meant to be fun. Try and find some time in your house that is electronic free. Make it a quiet time that is used for reading or storytelling. Encourage them to become imaginative and make their own stories as they get older. Who knows, you may have the next Mark Twain just waiting to write the next Adventures of Tom Sawyer.