From infancy through the high school years, literacy plays an important role in a child’s life. Children who enjoy reading often carry this interest throughout their lives. We offer information on how parents can encourage literacy in children through various age stages, and it can start by reading to a child for as little as 20 minutes a day.
From a very young age infants learn that crying invokes reactions from adults; this is the beginning of learning and understanding language and communication. Parents who look at brightly colored simple picture books with infants while describing what they’re seeing can help their babies make connections between spoken words and physical objects. Even though infants may not have the ability to speak yet, they are paying attention and will eventually develop a receptive language.
As infants develop into toddlers they naturally become more curious about books. They’ll want to hold and turn the pages and may even babble. Older toddlers will “read” the book, especially if it’s a story they’re familiar with. Parents and caregivers can make reading an interactive learning time by asking toddlers to point out characters and objects. Reading with children offers a chance to wind down from the day and can make the transition to bed time easier. To help toddlers recognize words, parents can also place labels on common household objects (e.g. door, window, toys) to teach them to associate the visual word with the object.
When children begin elementary school, reading becomes an extremely important part of their everyday lives. Taking weekly or bi-weekly trips to the library is a great way to encourage reading. Parent-child reading is still important at this stage for attaining reading skills. As these little ones become more independent, parents can listen and make sure their children are pronouncing words correctly. They can also ask children questions about what they observe in their books to confirm comprehension and retention.
Reading gives children, parents and caregivers a chance to relax, spend quality time together and communicate. Make sure to read everyday!
For children as young as 15 months, Happy Bookworm in Plainview, New York offers classes that encourage reading, creativity and interaction with parents, caregivers and other children.
The Book Revue Bookstore in Huntington, one of the largest independent bookstores in the nation, is a recommended place for families to visit for a large selection of reading materials. The Book Revue also offers activities and story times for toddlers and children.
Hartlyn Kids, a local children’s book publishing company launched by two moms, gives parents and children the opportunity to learn about different cultures from around the world.
Check out our recommended local Long Island Children’s Book Authors who have written books for children of all ages.
For children who may need extra reading help, please see our list of local Tutoring and Learning Centers.
By Pamela Boccia