Creating and nurturing a child’s ability to read starts with love for books. We are continually being bombarded with screens that seem to fight books for a battle in children’s downtime, and it is increasingly difficult to shield our children from the compulsive stimulation of the glow. This is why I believe it is time to emphasise yet again, as Little Miracles continues to do the importance of reading to children
We have programs in our preschools specifically designed to teach our toddlers and young children to read and to be ready to read before going to primary school. That is how important we think of reading to be.
Reading as a Night-Time Routine
There is something intrinsically healing about lulling your children to sleep whilst reading to them. At the end of a big day, (for you both) how soothing is it to have this as the last part of a night-time routine? They try to stay awake for as long as they can, all the while piling on the books they insist on finishing, and you know full well they will fall asleep in the meantime.
It becomes a beautiful memory as they grow up, and learn to read for themselves, you cherish the times where they no longer pointed to the pictures on the page and drifted to sleep in your arms.
To be able to switch off or calm down our racing minds and bodies in the act of reading, gives us the ability to know when to be quiet and to share this with our children. It becomes an invaluable lesson that we then carry into adulthood.
The Sensory Nature of Learning to Read
Reading an actual book is a full sensory experience. Turning the pages, using our fingers to trace the words and sentences. For children, this is their first experience with the correspondence between words and images. We are teaching them to engage not only their eyes but their ears to hear the words out loud and furthermore to touch and engage with pictures and images.
There are plenty of interactive sounds and touch-sensitive books available, but ultimately, it is this first experience of the full sensory nature of learning to read that will stay with children for a lifetime of reading.
I particularly love books that put an emphasis on the sounds and noises of words. Our children get an understanding of onomatopoeia from probably the age of two or three! How very funny! OUCH! BUMP! BLAST! CRACK! FIZZLE! POP!
The Physicality of Books
With technologies like our smartphones and iPads (with bigger screens) as well as Kindles, the size of the space from which to read is much smaller than that of a physical book. This doesn’t seem to assist with the process of learning to read.
Therefore, the importance of holding books, comes from having something in our hands that is specifically bound and decorated and made for the purpose to be HELD. Even as an adult and a grandmother, and someone who was not really entertained with reading as a child, I have grown to have a fondness for real books. And, children’s books are BEAUTIFUL. It is mesmerising wandering through the children’s section of a bookstore.
So can I encourage you, in your families reading journey to enjoy the physicality of books? Within Little Miracles, we are so passionate about supporting children’s early language and literacy development, which is why gifting a free book to each child every month is such an essential part of Loving Literacy. And for all the ideas mentioned above, this is precisely why we are proud to be able to gift these books to our children in the LM centres.
Little Miracles – Our Loving Literacy Approach
At Little Miracles, myself, Rob and our wonderful staff, are very proud of our Loving Literacy Approach. This holistic way of engaging children with early literacy experiences has been developed over many years of experience and draws from evidence-based research. Our view of literacy is that it is emergent in children, which means it begins at birth.
We believe that children’s knowledge about literacy is built through experiences with speaking and listening, songs, drama, early writing experiences and carefully designed games and activities that support the development of phonemic awareness. More on this on our website.
An excellent article I have found also outlines further the benefits of reading to children, read that here.
So, as you consider these things, I wholeheartedly hope that you believe in the power of reading and starting to read as early as your children can reach for their books or even earlier because they will thank you for it, I am positive.