Born to Read:
How to Raise a Reader
The information on this Web page also is available as a print brochure through ALA Order Fulfillment.
English (ALA: 2003): 8259-X. 50 per package, $22.
Spanish (ALA: 2006): 8334-0. 50 per package, $22.
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The joy of sharing books is a gift you can give children from the time they are born. Chanting nursery rhymes, singing songs, and reading stories can comfort and entertain even the youngest child. Listening to language lays the ground work for reading.
Parents, child care providers, teachers, and other adults interested in the development of young children have a wealth of good books from which to choose.
What we know about early literacy
A child's brain develops at an incredible rate during the first three years of life. A child's early experiences with language contribute to healthy brain development and lay the foundation for learning to read when a child enters school. Parents are indeed a child's first and most important teachers.
Early literacy is what children know about reading before they can actually read.
Researchers agree that children are more likely to become good readers if they start school with three sets of accomplishments:
- Oral language skills and phonological awareness: Children are able to comprehend and to express themselves with a wide range of words. They are able to distinguish the sounds as well as the meaning of words.
- Print awareness and letter knowledge: Children have learned that the black and white marks on a page represent spoken words. They are able to name the letters of the alphabet.
- Motivation to learn and appreciation for literary forms: Children have been exposed to a wide variety of literary experiences and have learned to love books and stories.
Raising a reader
- Begin when your child is born and spend time reading every day.
- Sing to your baby.
- Repeat nursery rhymes.
- Visit the library. Ask about storytimes. Borrow books to share with your baby at home.
- Choose books with colorful pictures and simple words--or no words at all.
- Read with expression--or just tell the story in your own words.
- Hold the book so your child can see the pictures clearly.
- Let your baby play with the book.
- Encourage your toddler to point out objects, repeat words, and talk about the story.
- Reread your child's favorite books over and over again.
- Use the technique of dialogic reading to help a child stay actively involved with a story and develop reading comprehension. Instead of reading the story straight through, ask the child open-ended questions about the story: "Why do you think Goldilocks ate Baby Bear's porridge?" "What do you think will happen next?"
- Read or tell stories in the language you are most comfortable with. It doesn't have to be English!
- Help your child develop phonological awareness --the understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds--by playing games with the sounds of words and repeating rhymes.
- Tell stories about your family and your culture.
- Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters.
- Be an example to your children; let them see you read books too.
More tips for book sharing
- Set aside a special time each day, such as nap time, bedtime, or after meals.
- Share books when you and your child are both in a relaxed mood.
- Take advantage of "waiting" times to share books--on trips, at the doctor's office, in line at the grocery store.
- Reading even 5 or 10 minutes a day to young children helps them get ready to read on their own.
We suggest the following Web sites for further information about how to raise a reader:
http://www.ala.org/alsc/born.html for further information on the Born to Read project; as well as the Born to Read brochure
http://www.ala.org/everychild for information on the ALSC/Public Library Association's Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® project
http://www.pbs.org/parents for public television/parenting information
http://www.famlit.org for suggestions on other family literacy projects
Some Good Books to Share
Baker, Keith. Big Fat Hen. Harcourt, 1994.
For information about how to organize a Born to Read program, contact the Born to Read Project/Association for Library Service to Children, 50 East Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611, 800-545-2433, ext. 2163, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.ala.org/alsc