importance of reading to children

Books Help Kindergarten Readiness and Early Learning

This month is a great time to talk about well-loved fun and learning activities that help kids with kindergarten readiness and early childhood development. One of the most powerful activities that we can do with kids is to read and share stories and books. Unfortunately, we tend to think of it as ordinary and everyday. That’s one of the reasons why it is so powerful. It fits with whatever we are doing and can be done anytime and anywhere. There are books to match anyone’s interests and to spark new ones.

Today’s blog post features children’s book author, David Chuka. He began to write when his daughter started learning to read, at age 6, and his son was just 3. Here is our email interview:

David Chuka
David Chuka

1. David, as an author of children’s books, I’m assuming you loved books from an early age. Was there someone in your family who encouraged that for you?

I would have to say yes but not in a one-on-one sort of way. Growing up my house was filled with all sorts of books from academic to historical to fiction to spiritual and everything in between. Out of boredom when I didn’t have anything doing, I read them all.

2. Do you remember a children’s book that was a particular favorite?

Hmmm….that is a somewhat difficult question. I honestly can’t remember a particular one although I remember reading several Enid Blyton adventure books that had entertaining characters and fun story lines.

3. In your own children, what benefits have you seen from sharing books and stories?

I think one of the benefits I see, is reading to them exposes them to a greater range of words with which they can express themselves. The direct result of this is confidence in social situations.

importance of reading to childrenThanks, David. For a play-of-the-day, read some books or tell some stories to your child. Books don’t need to be saved until bedtime. You might be able to have a start-of-the-day story, or an after breakfast book. Books and stories can help when waiting in line. Which ones do you recommend for young children?

Kindergarten Readiness Winter Fun & Learning

No matter where in the world you live, there is something magical for kids in the words winter and snow (adults often have an entirely different opinion) and that can encourage some kindergarten readiness fun and learning. One of the best activities is to read books with kids and there are some wonderful ones about winter.

snow-uri-shulevitzSharing books with kids may only take a few minutes in a day, but those few minutes create powerful connections and pathways in the brain. For a start, there is the language aspect of books. Just think of how much you use language in a day. Books help build language. A book may not have many words, but there is still lots to talk about as you and your child read.

Books for kids have pictures, and just like words, pictures have meaning. Ask you child what s/he sees in the pictures. Are the people wearing swimsuits? No, they are wearing warm clothes. Why do they need to wear coats? What are they doing? Connecting to the story is part of the process.

As we read stories to kids, they are both listening and watching. These are important skills to practice for learning, and are important for kindergarten readiness.

There are many children’s books about winter and snow. Local libraries will have some, not just bookstores. The book Snow by Uri Shulevitz is one of my favorites because the little boy, like so many kids, sees so much promise in just a snowflake. There are some easy rhymes, and counting fun, with 1, 2, 3 snowflakes and more.

Winter weather often limits other activities, so whether your books are about snow or not, it’s a great time to curl up and share books with kids. Do you and your child have some favorite winter books?

Kindergarten Readiness As Easy As 1 2 3 …

importance of reading to childrenIn this brand new year, will your child be starting kindergarten? Are you asking, “Will my child be ready for kindergarten?” “What is kindergarten readiness anyway?”

For some reassurance, kindergarten readiness:

  • is NOT time-consuming.
  • is NOT another item on already busy and full to-do lists.
  • is NOT rocket-science.

And you do not need to turn your house into a kindergarten boot-camp. Activities to encourage your child’s readiness for kindergarten can be done with things you are already doing at home, like the dishes or the laundry.

Here’s an activity to start off your new year. Even better, this can be your New Year’s Resolution for your child because it’s so powerful. It combines fun and learning at the same time:

New Year’s Resolution for Kindergarten Readiness Fun and Learning:

Read to Your Child Every Day!

  • Do you need a college degree to read books and share stories with your little one? No, but you need a secret formula to conjure up a smile when you have to read a favorite story for the zillionth time.
  • Is it time consuming? You only need a few minutes every day. You can do it whenever works best for your family. Morning, noon, or night. Bedtime or getting up time. You can read to your child anywhere.
  • Reading a story can piggyback onto standing in line at the bank, waiting for the washer to finish to pop clothes into the dryer, or riding on the bus to make use of minutes throughout the day.

The difference this will make to your child is astounding. The numbers tell the story: 3 or 4 books a day, a few days a week is about 25 books. 4 weeks in a month, adds up to already 100 books a month. Over a whole year that’s more than 1,000 books!! In just a few minutes a day, you have downloaded a library of books into your child’s brain before school ever starts. Easy, huh?

There’s a temptation to just turn on an app on a digital device, but reading with a cuddle turns a story into an experience or adventure. For instance, in Pat The Bunny, it’s so fun to reach up and feel daddy’s chin to see if his whiskers are scratchy like the one on the page. Kids can’t do that on a screen.

Check tomorrow for another kindergarten readiness tip that’s as easy as 1 2 3. Is reading books and sharing stories an activity you can do with your child?

(For more information on helping your child prepare for school, you can check for a daily play-of-the-day learning idea and sign up for a developmental checklist: http://123kindergarten.com/ready-for-kindergarten/)

Books Make Wonderful Gifts and Powerful Connections

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Halloween Books: Treat for Kids and A Trick for Brains

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Reading about Fall: Fun, Learning & Kindergarten Readiness

Do you think that “downloading” a library of children’s books onto your child’s “brain-hard-drive” would help for language fluency and later learning to read? That would be awesome if it could be done. Well, it can be and done easily too! By reading a few books a day to your child, a few days a … Continue reading Reading about Fall: Fun, Learning & Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten Readiness/Parent Involvement Makes A Difference #1

At the start of each school year parents of toddlers think that in only 1 or 2 years, they will have a little one heading off to school and are concerned about the question of readiness. One of the factors that increases a child’s success at school, also makes a difference in kindergarten readiness. That … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness/Parent Involvement Makes A Difference #1

Pirate Fun Activities for Kids #2: Books

When it comes to supporting learning, just reading and sharing books with kids is one of the most important activities that parents and caregivers can do for young children. Just think of how crucial it is for future success, that children develop the skills to read. Listening to stories and books builds the pathways that … Continue reading Pirate Fun Activities for Kids #2: Books

Summer Fun Activities for Learning & Kindergarten Readiness

Some summer activities depend on the weather but a visit to the local library is fun any day and boosts learning and kindergarten readiness too. On rainy days a visit to the library gives only a little outside time but it doesn’t feel like being stuck inside. On sunny days, you and your child can … Continue reading Summer Fun Activities for Learning & Kindergarten Readiness