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The Informed Parent

One More Look: The Importance Of Reading

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Oct. 04, 2010

Throughout its history The Informed Parent has published articles on reading with children. The other day I came across some staggering statistics. They were so concerning that I thought it was time to once again address the importance of reading. In his article “Changing Lives Through Books,” best-selling author David Baldacci sites the following:

  • More than 30 million American adults cannot read a prescription label or a short grocery list.
  • Sixty three million cannot read a TV guide.
  • Only 35% of the least-literate American adults are fully employed.

Numerous reasons could be given for such lack of literacy in the United States. Approaching the problem by asking why, evades the question of what we need to do to fix it. David Baldacci states, “Illiteracy is too large and entrenched a problem for any one person, foundation, or even government to solve.”

While the problem is huge, there are ways families can support reading in the home. This one act assists teachers and others involved in helping our children learn. By incorporating the following suggestions into the home life, you increase the chances of your child  becoming a student who learns the skills of reading and who also becomes a lifelong reader.

Make your  home a reading environment.
Put your bookshelf in a prominent place. Give the children a bookshelf of their own. Subscribe to a newspaper. Subscribe to or purchase magazines.

Be a reader.
Keep a book you are reading on a coffee table or other place children see it. Read a newspaper, magazine, or book at a time when the children see you reading.

Use the library.
Public libraries are not only places to check out books. Children’s librarians are filled with knowledge about what books are most popular with children of various ages. Most libraries have story hours for children up through school age. Many libraries have family activities.

Read to your children.
With babies, toddlers, and young children, read a story to them as part of the bedtime ritual. Older elementary school children like to read to you. This gives them an opportunity to show off their skills and a time for you to compliment them.

Turn off the TV and computer.
TV and computer games eat away at time spent on reading. Set aside some time during each day when no electronic devices are used. Encourage reading novels, nonfiction, or quality children’s magazines. If children resist, reading comics or game books is satisfactory. The goal is to read.

Discuss reading during part of the daily family conversation time. Ask the children about what they are reading. Since all but the youngest will be reading chapter books, simply ask what their
chapter or story was about that day. Discuss a newspaper or magazine article that you have read or share about a book you are reading.

Currently, there are many changes taking place that will affect the way readers read. Hard copy books will never go out of style. Other available options are devices such as Kindle, Nook, and iPad. While probably not appropriate for young readers, if you or your teens use these devices, remember that you are still reading. That is the point.

It would be easy to say that busy schedules don’t allow time for extra reading. For your children’s future, create time. It is a necessity.

Further information on reading with children can be found in “Reading with Children” and other articles in The Informed Parent article archives.

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