Raising a reader

In the community I live in I am on a committee called Read2Me. Since we first started, we have been working to inform parents the importance of early literacy in children. When I joined the group, I was just passionate about reading and ensuring that all children have access to reading materials from an early age. After I learned that I would be having Turner, I was even more excited because now I would be able to practice what I preach.

Read2Me’s main objectives are to teach parents the importance of early literacy through free parent training events, to inform the community of how crucial it is for children to have the opportunity to read wherever they go, and to provide free books to all children. With a focus on early literacy, Read2Me has targeted the age group of birth to 5 years old, to ensure that before children become school age, they are exposed and have access to things needed to raise a reader.

We teamed up with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to join their program which provides a FREE book each month to every child from birth to age five. Read2Me worked to raise the funds to keep this program free to all children in the age demographic. Ideally it costs $30 per child per month, but because of what Read2Me, a group of about eight volunteers and a local literacy council in our community has done, the estimated 1,800 children eligible for the program can all sign up for free.

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I of course signed Turner up and he will be getting his first book later this month. We are so excited. To live in a community that provides this type of opportunity to children is amazing.

A study of 3- to 5-year-olds who had been read to at least three times per week found the children:

Two times more likely to recognize all letters.

Two times more likely to have word-sight recognition.

Two times more likely to understand words in context.

 That development alone is worth the effort to read to your child everyday. I grew up loving to read. My best friend Shannon and I were complete nerds and our love of reading turned into a love of writing and starting in fourth grade, we began writing books. We had an entire series. I doubt they could have made the best sellers list, but it was through reading that we were able to use our imagination and expand our creativity and develop into who we are today. I write for a living, and if it was not for me growing up a reader, I doubt that would be possible.

In addition to the educational value of early literacy, raising a reader allows children to be exposed to entirely new worlds through books. Its a learning mechanism for all aspects of life. Living in the mountains, the only way I learned about sea animals was through books. That sort of exposure is so important as early as possible for children.

 For my baby showers, instead of cards that were going to be thrown away and forgotten, I asked everyone to get Turner a book, and write your message in the book. By writing a note to Turner, he will have something tangible that I can teach him about. I can explain who the person was and on several occasions the book spoke to the person’s personality. It was a great way to start his little library that I know will only continue to grow as he gets older. For the rest of his life, through birthdays and such, I plan to encourage family and friends to stick with that tradition and to forego cards and instead get him a book. These days, a book cost less, yet the value is far greater.

The first book I read to Turner was a children’s bible. I started reading it to him the day he came home from the hospital. I should read to him more often than I do. Even if its not books, read everything to your child. When you are sitting at the dinner table, read the cereal box label. Their brains are developing at such rapid rates that reading anything and everything will have a lasting impact on your child.   

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