|By Angeline M. Duran Santiago|
There's something about a soft light on your night table, a cup of tea or coffee, a super sized, warm, fluffy blanket and a great book to accompany you before you turn in for the night. Just like many adults love to float away into an adventure through reading, there's something even greater than reading to yourself. Well, what about injecting a love for reading in your children?
Something magical happens when you open up a book, even the ones without pictures, and use your voice, expressions, and mannerism to bring the story to life. Reading to my kids when they were little was something I looked forward to. With Aaron, it was Amelia Bedelia, Junie B. Jones and anything from dinosaurs to animals. With Jeru, it was fairy tales, heroic adventures and poetry. Jacob has been a mix of genres, enjoying a little of everything, lots of Steven Kellogg, especially if it's recommended by one of his siblings.
When we as parents get excited about reading, our children will, too. The moment we make a big deal about characters and what they go through, having discussions about what happened and the big "What if this were you?" question, you show your children that they can jump out of bed and into a new world, with friends ready to bid them "Welcome!" immediately.
What I notice is this. If the child struggles to read because they are still learning to read, then find the right book, preferably with pictures, and start slow. I would make a big deal when using books that were lower levels and try to make the moment fun. You see, many times students are embarrassed and they don't want anyone to know their struggles. As a parent, it's the same thing. If you're child hates reading, play with them and talk about it until you learn the reason for the dislike.
Another thing I found was that students would get bored with the books in the classroom. I can't begin to tell you the amount of money I spent buying books. I'd learn what the child was interested in and if I couldn't find a book in the school or in my home library, I'd buy it. I was desperate to help this child discover the world of stories waiting to be read.
If our children see that we love to read, maybe they will, too. But, we have to start and bedtime is a great time to begin placing that love for literature. Teachers want to help your child succeed. You can't wait for a teacher to be the only motivator and encourager in your child's life. Being able to read, comprehend, imagine, make connections, and compare characters or events in a story is crucial to your child's development as a learner and a test taker once they start third grade.
Why not make a big deal about your child's reading test scores by infusing a love for reading, having quiet reading time in your home, purchasing and giving books as gifts, and having a small area in your home as a library for your kids and family. It can all begin with one good bedtime story and your energy. For more fun, have your child read to you. Oh, there's nothing that compares to what happens when little children read to parents. Wow, the stories they make up just by looking at the illustrations. You will laugh!
I hope you have a bedtime story for tonight. My Jacob thinks he's too big for me to read to him. But, everyone here keeps a book by their pillow. The habit started when they were born. (I hope I made you smile there) If you've never done it before, I pray you start tonight. You won't regret it. You'll get closer to your child and might even discover ways to help them become a better reader. It all starts with you at home. You're the first teacher, the first model of enjoying a story, their first cheerleader! Go, Go parents!