Mother reading to kids

by Adam Winger, director, North Logan City Library 

As parents, we know reading out loud to our kids has several benefits, yet we may choose to postpone that 15-minute reading time for another night. Here is my pitch: Just do it! Make reading with your children a daily habit, giving them the experience of a lifetime.

“People would stand in line for days and pay hundreds of dollars if there were a pill that could do everything for a child that reading aloud does. It expands their interest in books, vocabulary, comprehension, grammar and attention span,” said author, Jim Trelease. Still, reading out loud is more magical than a pill. This precious time together transports children to a new world and helps them become compassionate about life.

Reading out loud is a great way to observe your children’s personalities. I read different things to my son than I do to my daughter, and I’m fascinated by what they each find appealing. My daughter can recite the 50 deadliest creatures, and how, in any given part of the world, I’m most likely to meet a terrible demise. Then a cute little laugh escapes her lips, and I know this special moment will someday be a fond memory of her childhood.

Books and stories are conversation starters and a great way to indicate emotional health. I read to my son, and the odd things that stick out to him and his poignant questions let me know what is preoccupying his inner world. The stories we read present subjects and concepts — familiar to adults, but certain things are often nonsensical and puzzling to those discovering them for the first time. Just read “Calvin and Hobbes” and marvel at the laughs you share for completely different reasons, and take time explore the absurdities that we too often accept as normalcy. Reading out loud to your children can be a gateway to conversations that will shape how they experience the world around them.

Make it fun and be silly. Read in the voices of your favorite characters, and take this time to “play” with your children. By doing so, you will bring stories, ideas and characters to life. Give this 15-minute daily supplement to your children, and they will have a strong foundation for literacy.