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I remember the first gift I opened at my baby shower was a book about how to get your children to sleep at night and a book on why children need to love to read. The first book did us no good. Our oldest still doesn’t sleep as much as I wish she would… and she is 15 years old now. But the other book on reading really got out attention. The only problem was that it didn’t tell us how to raise kids that would love to read, only that it was important for them to love it.
Then our daughter was born over 6 weeks early and everything we thought we would do went out the window. We felt like we were in survival mode. It took us a couple months to settle into parenthood and get our new normal up and going. Reading to our daughter became part of our new routine. We noticed that she immediately calmed down when we did and before we knew it she was trying to say the words with us.
She said her first word at four months old. We were in the elevator at the hospital when a doctor walked in and she said hi to him. He jumped back and asked if she really just said hi. Then she looked him right in the eyes and said it again! Fast forward a few years and she shocked everyone when she was reading chapter books before her 5th birthday. Reading has always been her favorite thing to do and she has learned so much from the stories she has read.
First 5 California knows how important the early years of childhood are to a child’s development and they want you to remember to “Talk. Read. Sing.®” every day with your child. I couldn’t agree more.
Here are my Tried & True Tips To Raise Reading Loving Kids!
1. Make reading part of your every day routine. Pete was really good about reading Maddie a book every night before bed. It was something that they both looked forward to.
2. Let them pick the book. Introduce new books often… but ultimately let the child decide what they want to hear. We still have her favorite book that she would insist he read to her 10 times before she would even think about going to sleep.
3. Find topics and stories that interest your child. Some kids really love fairy-tale adventures, where others really love more more reality based nature stories. We’ve learned it doesn’t matter what you read them… just as long as you are reading together.
4. As soon as they can talk let them help read the story. It’s amazing how much they can memorize or what creative ideas they can come up with. Let them read the book to you (even if there isn’t much real reading involved).
5. Act out the book. If the book is about cooking, take it into the kitchen and act it out together as you read it.
6. Take a book with you wherever you go. Teach them that a book is the best “go-to” toy around.
7. Collect books on your vacations. When we visit a new place we always buy a magnet to remember our time there, and we also buy the girls books. Maddie loves books about the history of an area and Ashley normally wants one about the more modern times. Either way there is something for everyone. Even Emmy gets in on it and either gets a coloring book or a chapter book.
8. Don’t push one sort of book on a child. As they get older they might not like the same books as everyone else. Let them explore the different types. There are magazines, comics and reference books. Find what interests them the most.
9. Let books lead your discussions. We always talk about the stories we are reading as we read them. We’ve had some amazing conversations about adventures people are taking in books and where we want to go and what we want to see.
First 5 California is on a statewide mission to inform, educate and inspire parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing to their little ones starting from the day they are born.
Science tells us that 90% of the brain is formed by the age of 5, and recent research also reveals that more than 80% of a child’s brain is formed by age 3. As you know from being a parent, these early years are the most formative and life-impacting. You want your child to have a larger vocabulary not only do better in school, but are significantly less likely to make poor choices in the future.
The experts at First 5 California refer to the brain as a muscle that needs exercise – and that means “working out” through talking, reading and singing regularly. Talking can be as simple as narrating the day; reading doesn’t always need to be via books; recipes, newspapers and road signs are great (aim for 30 min/day total – can be broken up into 5-10 min increments throughout the day) and singing doesn’t require carrying a tune (First 5 California has a great children’s radio station on Pandora that can help!).
We want to tell mothers, fathers, grandparents and caregivers across the state how much power they have over their children’s futures, and it all starts with three little words that have lifelong impact.
The First 5 California website as a great resource for activities for newborns, babies, toddlers and preschoolers. There’s a whole section (Activity Center) on things that parents can do with their kids to help stimulate the mind.