The Importance of Story Time
"Today You Are You, That Is Truer Than True. There Is No One Alive Who Is You-er Than You." March 2nd, every year our attention turns towards the words of one Theodore Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. The children's author was born on this day in 1904, and his imaginative and poetic rhyme and meter carved a path in the hearts and minds of generations of children. His words have helped countless children fall in love with Sneetches, Grinches, Wockets, and Whos, they have provided an entry for so many to fall in love with reading. It's no wonder we have made today a celebration of all things book related!
The subject of childhood literacy is no less important every other day of the year. Though we have innumerable ways to access great works of children's literature in countless formats: book to tablet to online resources, one staple of exposure remains tried and true: reading aloud and with your children. Recent studies have shown that reading aloud to our children versus simply talking with them can help build literacy and a love of reading in them from a very young age. This activity not only increases a child's exposure to more vocabulary words but also nurtures their intellectual development.
You don't need to wait to begin to read to your child, and can even begin during the last weeks of pregnancy! Reading picture books or even a reliable resource like "What To Expect When You Are Expecting" aloud, can help your baby hear your voice, and even recognize it once born. Babies obviously won't understand the words or their meaning for some time, but it does help their developing ear buds and brains pay attention and respond to sounds. Studies have also shown it helps from a very young age to develop listening skills! Babies brains don't wait for birth to absorb information, so grab your favorite copy of "Good Night Moon" or "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and read aloud to your developing baby bump!
How Do You Make Reading A Family Time Staple?
There are many ways to include story-times in your family's day. One of the most obvious ways is at bedtime. Making picture book reading, or as your children age a new chapter in a favorite longer novel, can help to provide routine and structure. Bed-times that include a story where a parent reads aloud have often helped children ease into sleep and provide comfort for them as they transition into rest. Not to mention you've just piled into their minds loads of vocabulary words and new worlds of imaginations perfect for their dreams!
Another way is to of course make our library here in Converse County a routine stop and resource in your week! Our library not only has many options for story time, countless books to keep your child's imagination growing at all ages and stages, but also the staff that can recommend other resources as well! We reached out to our library, and they didn't disappoint with some great links and resources to check out:
As well, having an invaluable resource like our library close at hand means you don't have to spend countless dollars buying books to provide a steady and varied source of material for your children. Helping children access and become comfortable in their library from a young age shows them what a tremendous resource it is for life! Also of importance: keeping well-loved favorites in the home for your child to select from with ease. Books never seem to go out of style and children surrounded by books as they grow are sure to come to rely on their presence in the home as a way to expand their minds and learn without the need for mobile devices or television.
If You Make It Important, It's Important
Our children learn what is important and of high value by what we model, we are their first teachers. If you set aside time to read for your enjoyment or development, they will as well. Turning off the television and other distractions and making time in your home for a bit of quiet reading can help establish reading as an important part of your home's weekly routine.
Asking for books for birthday presents or even your baby registration in place of other items also shows the importance you place on the value of books in your child's life. One idea is to ask those attending your baby's shower or child's birthday party to bring a copy of their favorite storybook or age-appropriate chapter book to help build your child's library! Not saying your child should get solely books as presents all the time, but you can find many opportunities to replenish your child's library throughout their development by giving the gift of literacy time and again.
Another idea to make it even more special when a book is given on these occasions: inscribe it with a special message to them and date it. Doing so provides countless ways they can look back and see a moment in time where you gave them this profound gift. Making traditions and memories in your home that have a basis in the written word helps our children understand just how important a lifelong love of reading really is!
As your children age, to keep it fresh have them routinely read aloud back to you. This can provide a way for them to develop storytelling skills of their own, as well as provide an opportunity for them to realize they can read to others now that this lifelong skill has been passed on to them. There is nothing quite like witnessing the delight on a child's face when they realize they have the power to tell and read stories and harness the imagination of others. You may even find them reading to their siblings or an audience of their stuffed animals, modeling your example!
Routinely going through your child's library and donating books to the library, your child's preschool or other cause is a way to keep the gift of literacy spreading throughout our community. This provides an amazing way to show your support of childhood literacy for all of the children in our town. Speaking with your local library or school about what type of books they need at present or if they have a "Book Wish List" can also help you find a way to provide for another child or family!
The important message is to make it unique to your family, and do what you can when you can to help develop literacy. Remember the words of Dr. Seuss: "You are You, There Is No One Alive Who Is You-er Than You!" You've got this Moms and Dads!
No matter where your family is in development: newborn to older ages and stages, every member of your family can take great joy in reading and can get something out of time spent with a good book. What are some of your favorite ways to settle in with story-time with your own children? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page so other parents can try them out!