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Is Reading Encouraged in Your House?
by William Stratbucker, MD on 04/07/2011 at 6:22 AM

Ensure Reading Success Through a Reading-Friendly Home

Emmy David is a teacher and educational liaison at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and is our guest blogger.

There is so much evidence that teaching children to read is not only important, but critical to their future success.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, children who have not developed basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years. 

Here at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, I work as a teacher/education liaison, where I provide educational assistance to school age patients. In this role, I see firsthand how important reading is, and I know that being able to read at a young age can make a world of difference academically. Not only are children who are able to read earlier more confident readers, their writing becomes better, too. Reading with a parent or other family member also helps children and parents communicate and they form better bonds that can last a lifetime.

One of the best ways to ensure your child's reading success is to create a reading-friendly home. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Create an inviting physical space. Include your child in designing this space, and make sure it is quiet and comfortable. Does your child prefer to sit up, lie down or lounge in a chair?  Does he or she prefer soft lighting or being at a table near you?  You can also consider using a rag rug or special blanket that is only used when reading that becomes a portable "reading area."
  • Create a calm "psychological" space, too. Never force your child to read-showing children by example is always the most persuasive, so make reading an important part of your own day. Also, make sure family members know that when your child is reading, he or she should not be bothered.
  • Discover your child's own interests. What does your child want to read? The more interested he or she is in the subject, the more excited your child will be about reading.
  • Keep bringing new books into your home. In addition to finding books at the library or bookstore, why not trade books with friends? When you keep new books coming into your home, you help ensure your child stays interested in reading.
  • Don't be frustrated by repetition. Children sometimes choose to read the same book over and over again for weeks.  Many children feel empowered knowing something ahead of time, like how a conflict in a story will be resolved. 
  • Talk about the parts of the book you love. Pointing out funny parts, great illustrations and explaining the author's intent will get your child talking about what they love and treasure about stories and reading as well.
  • Let your young child tell you stories. Young children can begin to develop a love of reading even before they can read. In addition to reading them stories, have your child tell you stories-either ones he or she remembers or makes up.
  • Let siblings, grandparents and babysitters read to your child, too. Even though story time can be a coveted part of the day for parents, it is good to share the experience from time to time.

How do you encourage your children to read? What do you think are barriers to them reading?

-          Emmy David

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Comment posted by Anonymous on 10/12/2011 at 4:51 PM
I hate my life but at least this makes it baebrlae.