Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Learning to Read...

One of my favorite activities is to read stories to young children; somehow you cannot help but get caught up in their excitement!!  When my kids were young I read to them daily. Sometimes I found it was difficult as I was tired and knew that a pile of laundry the size of Chicago threatened my basement, not to mention the dishes that felt as tall as Mount Everest on the counter…sometimes I would try to hurry the process by ‘missing’ a page (which rarely worked) but regardless of the chaos surrounding us we always made time for a book or two (or three).
Encouraging children to develop a love of reading at an early age lays the foundation for strong literacy skills, which are crucial for future success.  Exposing babies to books and reading increases vocabulary, makes it easier for them to learn to read later on, and it offers opportunities for positive interactions with the adults in their lives. Early exposure to language—whether through books, words, or songs—can help prevent problems and promote health.
As a grandma I feel fortunate to see the benefits of reading  again and again. My children all grew up loving to read, to learn and to escape into a world of fantastical wonder. I was able to take my love of books and make it part of my everyday existence though a job I love (it is a lot of fun to see all the new books months in advance!) And now I see that love has filtered through a generation to my beloved grandson.
Each week, we do a grandma date night…sometimes we let mommy come along as well. This week we spent some time in the bookstore reading and exploring.  After we had read a number of stories it was time to pick the ‘MOST favorite’ one, the one that would finish out its life on the family bookshelf. It was (and is) so much fun to watch as he starts to narrow down the choices, returning one after another to the store shelf until only the two ‘best’ ones are left. Then it is time to choose, to run joyfully to the counter to pay and hold the book tightly as we exit the store in search of a good place to have a night snack before heading home.
This week’s winner was a delightful book about Pete the Cat written by Eric Litwin,  a popular performer  who delights thousands of children and families every year… and I can see why. Designed to be fun and help children with word recognition this is one of my new favorites. Apparently Austin thinks so too as he woke up early (as in 5:30 early) to read it to his mommy in bed. Watching this video my heart melts because here is a child who obviously loves to read…and because the legacy of literacy continues on.

Here are some other great books to help foster a love of reading at a young age:

 Perfect Pet for Peyton~ Gary Chapman
 Princess Stories~ Carolyn Larsen
Jesus Storybook Bible~ Sally Lloyd-Jones

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