Welcome to Day #5 of Bloggers Read Across the Globe (BRAG) — Promoting Children’s Reading and Literacy
Children’s Literacy Headline: As many as 5 out of every 100 children in school in the U.S. may have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)–a condition that can make it hard to sit still, pay attention, and learn to read. (National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities)
Today, I’m happy to share this wonderful article, “Reading — The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child,” by Jackie Minniti, author of Project June Bug, a novel approach to ADHD.
Since research overwhelmingly demonstrates a strong correlation between time spent reading and success in school, most parents would love to see their children become avid readers. But how do you get your child to pick up a book when there are so many other activities competing for his attention? As a former reading teacher, I have worked with hundreds of emerging readers, and I found that parents who spend a lot of time reading tend to have children who like to read. If we follow this to its logical conclusion, one of the best ways you can foster your child’s love of reading is to turn off your television, computer, or iPad and pick up a book.
And the earlier the better. Parents who read to their infants and toddlers are setting the stage for a child who will want to read independently one day. Those cozy times cuddled on Mommy or Daddy’s lap looking at pictures and listening to stories are to the brain what comfort food is to the body. In addition to being a great bonding activity, reading to your child can strengthen listening skills and encourage young imaginations.
As your child grows, you can make read-aloud time a more interactive process. Before beginning a new book, discuss the cover and title with your child and see if he can guess what the story will be about. As you read, stop at strategic points in the story and see if your child can predict what will happen next. Help your child develop a feel for characterization by discussing the emotions or motivations of characters at different points in the story. At the end of the story, having your child recall what happened first, next and last will help build sequencing and memory skills.
When your child can finally read independently, show interest in what he’s reading by discussing the book’s plot or characters. See if your child can critique the book by telling you what he liked or didn’t like about the story. For older, more tech-savvy kids, an e-reader can help keep their noses in a book. Consider one for a holiday or birthday gift, along with a gift card for book purchases, and you have a way to compete with those omnipresent video games. This is also a good time for you to share your favorite books and authors with your child (providing, of course, that they are age-appropriate). Many adult authors have also written books for young adults, so this is another way to find common ground. Reading the same book as your child can open up wonderful opportunities for “book talk.”
By the time your child is in middle school, you might find that he’s stuck on a particular genre. Take, for example, the Harry Potter phenomenon. I was teaching 7th and 8th graders when the first Harry Potter book hit bookstores, and I couldn’t keep fantasy novels on the shelf. My students were even reading Tolkien’s Ring trilogy. Now the big genre is supernatural thriller, as evidenced by the popularity of the Twilight series. While you might not be thrilled with your child’s choice of reading material, keep in mind that this fixation on a genre is normal. You can even use it as an opportunity to slip some classics into your child’s repertoire (Bram Stoker’s Dracula comes to mind.) So the next time you want your child to get lost in a book, remember that the best way to lead is by example. Dust off that book you’ve been meaning to read, and rediscover the joy of reading along with your child.
Jackie Minniti is a former teacher and the award-winning author of Project June Bug, a novel based on her classroom experiences. She gives readers an intimate peek behind the faculty room door and takes them on an unforgettable journey into the world of ADHD.
Jackie is currently a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg, Florida. Please visit her website at www.jackieminniti.com and her blog, Fabulous Florida Writers, at www.fabulousfloridawriters.blogspot.com.
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