Reading to Develop a Reader

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Ah, Dr. Seuss. He has always had such a way with words. He is, in fact, the author of one of the first books that I can remember reading, Are You My Mother? I have great memories of summer reading programs and bedtime stories. I even remember as a teen, keeping my door open enough to be able to listen to my Mom read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my brother.

Funny the things we remember. It seems I have always loved books but now that I am a Mom, I find myself asking, “How did that happen?” How did I develop such a love of books and reading? Well, I am told that the answer is fairly simple…read to develop a reader.

The American Library Association (ALA) recommends the following:

  • Begin when your child is born and spend time reading every day.
  • Sing to your baby.
  • Repeat nursery rhymes.
  •  Visit the library. Ask about story times. Borrow books to share with your baby at home.
  • Choose books with colorful pictures and simple words–or no words at all.
  •  Read with expression–or just tell the story in your own words.
  •  Hold the book so your child can see the pictures clearly.
  • Let your baby play with the book.
  • Encourage your toddler to point out objects, repeat words, and talk about the story.
  • Reread your child’s favorite books over and over again.
  • Use the technique of dialogic reading to help a child stay actively involved with a story and develop reading comprehension. Instead of reading the story straight through, ask the child open-ended questions about the story: “Why do you think Goldilocks ate Baby Bear’s porridge?” “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Read or tell stories in the language you are most comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be English!
  • Help your child develop phonological awareness –the understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds–by playing games with the sounds of words and repeating rhymes.
  • Tell stories about your family and your culture.
  • Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters.
  • Be an example to your children; let them see you read books too.
  • Set aside a special time each day, such as nap time, bedtime, or after meals.
  • Share books when you and your child are both in a relaxed mood.
  • Take advantage of “waiting” times to share books–on trips, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store.
  • Reading even 5 or 10 minutes a day to young children helps them get ready to read on their own.

I think that sounds doable, don’t you? My daughters and I love to visit the library and have accumulated a library of our own at home. We love to give books as a gift and while it may not be received with the same level of exuberance as the latest toy (a Mom can always hope, right?), at bedtime, the toys will be put away and the book will become the hit of the day.