Parenting Matters: Raising a reader

  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Research has shown that children must hear and share in hundreds of stories before they are ready to learn to read in school.

It is equally important for them to talk … and talk and talk … about what they see every day.

The reading and talking help a child really be ready for school. Students who are not prepared for school struggle for years to catch up and many never do. Five-year-olds who are ready for school start ahead and stay ahead, year after year.

“Read With Your Child – It’s the Most Important 20 Minutes of Your Day”: You may see this saying posted around from time to time. It really is an important message for parents of young children.

Did you know that kids who are read to do better in school? That is true.

Reading aloud to a child raises self-esteem and reading ability. That is true.

Becoming a better reader helps a child to do better in all subjects. That is true.

Children will read a book on their own that has been read to them by their parents. That is true.

Allowing your child to read in bed is a good habit to encourage. And even that is true.

Ease access to bundles of books

Actually, children are very busy and you need to figure out how to put books in front of your child by being a little creative. You just need to remember to keep books in front of your child regularly. You can’t do it for two weeks and then forget about it.

You need to put books in places your child will be. If books are next to the toy box or his favorite train set, he is more likely to pick up and read it. Keep books in your car. Even put cookbooks in the kitchen.

Carry books with you when you will be in a waiting room. When you go to the pediatrician or the dentist, take a book. Reading a story or a poem help soothe your child who may be worried. See if this will help her.

Have waterproof books by the bathtub. As he grows older, he will figure out how to keep the books less damp.

Always keep books in your child’s room. Even sending your child into her room for a “time out” is a good time for her to read.

Subscribing to magazines for your child gives him something to look forward to. Having a magazine come to him at his name will delight him. There are more than 150 magazines for children.

Ask your child to help you when you are cooking. Have her read the ingredients or directions to you.

Reading road signs is a fun way to read. Pick out just a few signs and ask him to tell you when the sign says “Stop” or “Yield.”

When you are traveling, be sure to have books with you. Having books with you and your child makes the journey more pleasant.

Listen to recordings of books. There is a growing number of books available for sale or at the library. This means if you don’t have time to read everything, you get some help. Someone else can be the reader.

Make your own recordings. Even when you aren’t there, he can hear your voice as you read a story to him.

Follow up reading with your child with talking to your child about what you have just read together. The way we talk to a child makes a difference in learning. Researchers have even found that children of talkative mothers perform better than children of quiet mothers.

So think about creative ways to include reading in your child’s day to day activities. Even think about just talking with your little one.

You can really make a difference in your child being ready for school and have a good time doing it.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at

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