A Gifted Guide That Suits Every Child

By Paula Hull and Patty Willis,

Members of the Cache County School District Literacy Team

Mother and Daughter Reading

ARE YOU SEARCHING for the perfect gift? During the holidays, we are often faced with choices that are costly, lack quality, or may be underappreciated. So, how do we find the perfect gift?

If a child is on your list to shop for, here are three cost-free options that will last a lifetime and build precious memories. They can also give your child an educational advantage by developing oral language skills, expanding vocabulary, and encouraging a lifetime love of reading. These are the gifts of conversation, reading time, and example.

The Gift of Conversation

Language development begins at birth and continues throughout a person’s life. As we talk and interact with children and teenagers, language is strengthened and improved. This directly predicts their success in reading. Opportunities for conversation can include driving in a car, building a snowman, eating together, or hundreds of other everyday moments. During these activities, take the time to talk to your children and teens. Even children as young as infants can benefit from these conversations! Setting aside time to discuss the world around them will strengthen your child’s oral language development and build lasting relationships.

The Gift of Reading Time

graphReading with an adult while cuddled on the couch or next to a cozy fire is a great activity for all children, especially those who are learning to read. To promote reading, be sure to have a variety of books and other materials available. As you read to and with your child, they will come to associate reading with warm, happy memories.
The impact of daily reading is a strong predictor of success in school. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2006), “When children become good readers in the early grades, they are more likely to become better learners throughout their school years and beyond.” A landmark research study found that one minute of reading per day introduces children to 8,000 words per year. Just five minutes per day increases this exposure to 282,000 words.

Amazingly, a child who reads 20 minutes daily is exposed to 1,800,000 words yearly. This exposure to vocabulary has an impact that is exponential for such a small sacrifice of time.

The Gift of Example

Your child looks like you, speaks likes you, and watches everything you do. Children naturally mimic what they see and are drawn to those activities. As children observe the adults in their life choosing to read for enjoyment, they begin to appreciate reading as well. Reading helps them to explore the world and understand the differences around them.

Spending time with your child talking and reading can help them become more skilled and confident, which in turn will increase the likelihood of their success in school and lifelong enjoyment as a reader.

Now, that’s a gift worth giving