Monday, May 24, 2010

What Is Your Book Philosophy for Kids?

What Is Your Book Book Philosophy for Kids?
Here's Mine!
by Shara Lawrence-Weiss

Some parents believe that books should be read after the age of one. Some parents say, "No - read from birth." Some parents maintain a playroom where all of the kid's books are stationed while others put books in their Den or Family Room.

Then you have parents like me :-) I place books all over the house, in every room, at eye level and within reach. Feel free to view my layout...

On another note, here is my book philosophy, in partial detail:
  • Read books while your child is developing in the womb. Even inside the womb, your child can sense, hear, feel and engage. The soothing sound of your reading tone helps to set the stage for a love of reading. So pick up a book, plop down and read out loud to your growing baby (not while driving, though - thanks). 
  • After birth, offer books right away. I began offering books to my kids at about a week old. They could not yet hold them but their fingers touched the books and felt the pages. Soon after, they were able to wrap their fingers around a page for a few moments before letting go. 
  • Offer books that won't be torn up. I gave my newborn children cloth books, PCS books and plastic books (I did not allow them to chew these), etc. 
  •  Many children learn to hold books right-side up by the age of two. My children were holding books right-side up by 8 months old. That's because I offered books from such an early age. 
  • I encouraged books as toys, at first. Rather than do any sort of sit-and-drill with them, I simply handed them books or placed them out so they would be found. I set the stage for book engagement without any forcing upon them of the need to read/memorize
  • I am not an advocate of baby reading programs. I believe they can work, don't get me wrong. Reading is nothing more than memorization at first. A young child can do that, no trouble, if drilled and pushed. Why do that, though? If I am a parent who will encourage reading and literacy, it will all come in due time. If I allow books and words to be FUN at first, my child will want to know what they say - what they mean - what they feel like inside the heart. I believe that during the first years of life, children need time to play, explore and discover their worlds. That does include books but it also includes dirt, sticks, rocks, bugs, pots and pans, crayons, music, dancing, singing, etc. Word memorization should not be the main focus at this stage. 
  • I want my kids to not only memorize words but to also comprehend those words. What do they mean? What is their purpose? How can we connect with them on a personal and meaningful level?
  • A teacher in school once told me that one (at least) US state bases their prison space on third grader reading stats. Why? Because from the age of 0-3 kids learn to read. From 3+ they read to learn. If they are not capable of reading to LEARN...many of them end up in jail (according to the studies - this is a link they have found). So...I want to be sure my kids are not simply memorizing words but rather - reading to LEARN. In order to make that happen, they need to enjoy books. Therefore, as stated above, I have always offered books as toys prior to using them as reading materials.
  • When we go grocery shopping I point out words everywhere we go: Cold! Bread! Milk! Cereal! Sale! This helps to get the kids thinking about words in a very subtle but relevant way.
  • I have always used photographs to teach my kids. Both inside my PCS books and as laminated cards. Children love looking at photos, especially their own (a bit narcissistic, yes, but we can use that to your advantage for the purposes of literacy!). My daughter has color cards, number cards and emotion cards (photo on one side, word on the back). From the age of one she could point to a card and express to me her understanding of the emotions attached. For instance, she'd pick up the "sad" card and show me a sad face. She'd pick up the "happy" card and show me a happy face. Etc. Simple but effective for linking emotion to words (a key factor in a person's ability to *read to LEARN*). She also knew her colors by 18 months because of her color cards.
  • We want our kids to love books, to see them everywhere and to trust that books are valuable, meaningful and helpful to their development. Therefore, we place books all around our environment. If you didn't click my link above, to see my home layout, click now!
So there you have it - my book philosophy, in part.

Happy Reading...Learning...Engaging!

Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Kids Perks and Personal Child Stories. She has a background in early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.  This article is a repost from her site, Early Childhood News and Resources, where you can find many more ideas on caring for the children in your life.

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Brimful Curiosities said...

After the birth of my son, I realized that I did not need to limit his reading to board books and books meant for toddlers. He has enjoyed reading picture books since he was one and is usually pretty gentle. I wish I would have started with regular picture books a little earlier with my daughter.

Annette said...

I feel the most important thing is to be an example of a parent that reads. Both of my parents read and this encouraged me to read.
I did not read to my children while they were still in the womb, maybe the thought to do this did not occur to me.
I did read to them all the years they were growing up, at least until they were adolescent.
Taking children to the library is important. Every summer our public library has a summer reading program, prizes are won for keeping up with reading.

Mystee said...

I try really hard to get my kids to read. Some of them enjoy it more than others. I'm trying the Read With Mom & Me Challenge that I thought up to try to push more reading this summer. If it works well, I'll modify it some and have one for during the school year too. ♥

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gahome2mom said...

I suppose the books I listed were more for preteen and teens. Good. Clean. :)Thanks.