I think we can all agree that no two children are alike. This is what makes children the wonders that they are.
When it comes to fostering a love for books with children, it often comes easier for some than others, often not through a lack of trying. The important thing to realize is that even if your child does not seem to immediately take to having stories read to them, one must not give up. Time and again, evidence has continued to confirm the connections between a child's future successes and having books frequently read to them at as early an age as possible:
· The landmark 1985 study "Becoming a Nation of Readers," which is still widely cited today, noted that, "The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success … is reading aloud to children."
· A study by the government of Ontario found that "simple things like reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years."
· According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 26 percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.
· The results of a 20-year study conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno, show that children who come from a home in which plenty of books are readily available advance on average 3.2 years further in their education.
This is not about teaching children to read; rather it is the simple concept of connecting children with books: by reading to them, letting them look at the pictures, or simply connecting them with an environment where fun associations with books can be made, i.e. frequenting the local public library.
Here at the Elm Grove Public Library, many children come in at first just to play with the toys we have at the library. Eventually, their curiosity leads them to the plethora of colorful books on the shelves, and before long, caregivers are reading children stories in the library and taking home more books.
Public libraries everywhere are always hosting great story times and reading activities for children. At the Elm Grove library, there are many free programs and activities that can help introduce your child to the wonder of books. An exciting new program recently launched called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is built around the concept that if your child has heard at least 1,000 stories before they begin school, they will be much better prepared and ahead of the curve.
Additionally, the popular Words for Whiskers/Read to Rover therapy pet reading program returns on Jan. 15, in which children who could use extra reading practice can come to the library and read stories to either Dexter the cat or Jake the dog. The library also has frequent story times and activities for young children occurring on Thursday and Friday mornings.
For information on these and other great programs, or if you have any questions, call the library at (262) 782-6717.
Noah Weckwerth is an Adult Services librarian at the Elm Grove Public Library.
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