On March 3rd we celebrate Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!
"The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school." National Commission on Reading, 1985
Studies say that children should receive at least 1,000 hours of one-on-one reading by first grade to increase educational success. This means that reading to those babies is actually effective, even if their only interest seems to be to eat the pages! Eventually, they start to understand the concept of “reading,” and they look forward to books being read to them.
Reading to toddlers is as easy as reading a book to them every night before bed, or simply sitting on the floor with them at any given moment, opening a book, and beginning to read—sooner or later, they’ll plop on your lap to see what you’re up to. If your books are high up on a shelf or not easy for your child to see, they won’t have interest in them. Get a basket designated only for books, and put them on the floor so your child can freely explore them (board books are ideal).
For older kids (my oldest is 7, so I can’t speak for kids much older than that), we have quiet reading time just about every day, where they get comfy with their books—sometimes on their own, other times with my husband or me—and they read independently. Then, at bedtime, we read aloud to them. A great tradition is to read classic chapter books to your kids. I’m sure we all have favorites that we heard or read as kids, but here is a list in case your memory is a little foggy (like mine) http://www.mymommystyle.com/2014/01/24/the-50-best-read-aloud-chapter-books-for-young-kids/
Recently I realized it was time for my 5-year-old to get her first library card (Once your child can write his/ her first and last name they can get their own card). It seems unnecessary if you have one of your own (if you don’t, go get one!), but it is a BIG deal to kids. There is a sense of ownership that can’t be taken from them when they are handed something with their name on it that gives them access to a world of books. So, we headed out to one of my favorite branches of the Chicago Public Library to get her card. A dozen books later, we were walking out with a proud new card owner. She was delighted. She proudly wore her sticker acknowledging her accomplishment, and could not wait to show her classmates and teacher her new library card.
I haven’t been to many of Chicago Public Library branches, but I do know that some are better than others as far as children’s areas go. I recommend finding all of the libraries that are near you and trying them all out. I like the Jefferson Park, Sulzer Regional, Irving/Austin, and Oriole Park branches, as well as the Park Ridge Public Library. One thing that used to keep me from visiting too often was that I dreaded forgetting to return them on time; but I learned that you can go online and automatically renew them if you know you won’t be getting back to the library by the due date. The CPL website is pretty awesome. There is a lot to explore on there: http://www.chipublib.org
This is also a great list of libraries in and around the city to check out: http://redtri.com/chicago/beyond-books-15-local-libraries-with-a-twist/
I could go on and on about how important and fun reading can be for all ages. Since we can’t seem to escape this wicked winter, at least make a trip to the library with your little one and escape into a book!