Creating a Reading Environment at Home
RIF considers family involvement essential to any child's success as a reader. Research has shown that by talking, singing, and reading to children, parents are turning on brain cells that are essential for a healthy child. Parents can build reading skills by interacting with their children. By encouraging babies and young children to communicate, parents are laying the foundation for later reading success.
Parents and other family members need to be involved in children's reading throughout their school years. Schools recognize the importance of parent involvement in students' progress and are increasingly encouraging parents to play a more active role.
Below are a few simple things that parents can do to create a healthy reading environment.
Make Reading Materials Available
To create a healthy reading environment, start with a good supply of reading materials-newspapers, magazines, books, and catalogs. It doesn't matter if they're owned or borrowed, new or used. What's important is that reading materials are a natural part of your home and everyday life. Set aside a spot in your home for a family library. You don't need much space; a corner of a room with a bookshelf, comfortable furniture, and adequate lighting will do. In choosing materials, remember that variety counts. Instead of focusing on the number of books, keep in mind the interests of each family member. A small collection of books thoughtfully gathered over time is better than a large collection that goes unread. Paperback and hardcover books, a dictionary, an atlas, songbooks, magazines for parents and kids, newspapers, and catalogs all have a place. Make sure your library includes something for everyone at every reading level.
Make books inviting to everyone. Sturdy bookcases, built-in shelves, and open magazine racks are ideal, but an orange crate works too. Be sure to put reading material for youngest readers on the lowest shelves.
Be Reading Role Models
As much as they may deny it, most children want to be like their parents. Their lifelong habits start to form at the earliest ages, often by mimicking older members of the family. If they see you reading daily-both for function and for pleasure-they will more likely become avid readers themselves. If children see parents visiting libraries and checking out books, giving and receiving books as gifts, and borrowing and loaning books to friends, they will know their parents place a high value on reading.
Reprinted with the permission of Reading is Fundamental, Inc. ©2007 Reading Is Fundamental, Inc.
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