Too many Americans are unable to read above a sixth-grade level and even more choose not to read. Yet, if children are exposed to reading at an early age, they are more likely to make it a part of their adult life. As parents, it is our responsibility to be role models for literacy – begin reading to children when they are infants, impart the value of reading to nurture their budding imagination, and demonstrate a love for the written word.
Countless books are now produced in “board book” format, making them virtually indestructible, and many books are illustrated with colorful pictures that appeal to the youngest “reader.” Children’s books can be found in libraries and thrift stores so every child can have the experience of holding a book in his hands.
For example, reading a story is more than just speaking the words on a page. Reading is a conversation, a conversation between you, your child, and the characters in the story. Encourage discussion and interaction by pointing out the pictures in the book and by allowing them to trigger your child’s imagination. Look for ways to encourage your child to express his thoughts and feelings about situations in the book and how he might relate these situations to his own life. These types of experiences teach your child that a book is his friend, a friend that provides a gateway to exciting and interesting people and places.