With the alarming rate of illiteracy today, it’s imperative that parents introduce children to books at an early age. It should be a fact that children and books go together like two (happy) peas in a pod. We can make that happen. A love of reading encourages an inquisitive mind, critical thinking skills, helps develop a sense of humor, increases a desire for knowledge and moral values. Books can help a child learn empathy and compassion for others.
Children’s story books form the perfect introduction between children and books. Those nap time and bed time stories with toddlers form the basis of many a happy memory, which lasts into adulthood. Who would have thought that you’d remember Mom or Dad reading ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’, decades later? Yet, probably each of us does have such memories, fond recollections of time spent reading and imagining, before we ever learned to read.
Illustrations provide the bridge to the words of the story. Preschoolers are fascinated by the pictures which visually tell the story, from page to page. Children and books thus become the best of friends. Soon, your child becomes curious to find out how to read the words themselves. You can encourage this process subtly, occasionally linking a word on the page to the portion of the illustration that pertains to a word or idea. For example, tonight’s bedtime story is ‘Alligay Saves the Stars’. The story has numerous references to this cute little flying Alligator, trying to retrieve his boomerang from the starry sky. Look, aren’t the stars beautiful? You want to see which word means star? The answer will likely be Yes! Look at that big smile on Alligay’s face! Here’s where the word smile is. Yep, a great big smile!
Before long, your toddler will begin to understand that the words you read relate to real objects and ideas. Words then become almost like magic. Surely, your child has, at some time or another, begged for …just one more story, please! If it’s at all possible, try to never refuse these requests. This is how children and books become fast friends. When the time comes and they’re ready to learn their ABCs, you’ll have an eager pupil who now understands the power he or she has within their grasp.
Starting an early relationship between children and books does form a bond that lasts a lifetime. Frequent story reading sessions and trips to the library becomes an enjoyable past time and habit. As kids get older, they have a desire to expand their knowledge through reading. By the time they’re in third or fourth grade, you may find them choosing a book from the library in an area that’s of special interest to them. A book on frogs or astronomy. The point is, you’ve guided them to a point where they actively pursue knowledge through reading.