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Early Literacy Matters They Say…

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

"South Florida's Children's book author Karlene Froling shared her thoughts on child literacy in this insightful yet personal article about teaching her children how to read." --Desiree Avila. All posts are reprinted with permission from Living In Oakland Park Magazine

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Early Literacy Matters They Say...

Early Literacy Matters They Say...

I am a full-time working mother of three beautiful children. My two boys and my girl are my world. I do have to brag that my sons are doing well in their honor classes while my daughter is beyond excited to start elementary school this year. However, I have to point out there is one difference between my boys and my girl: My sons hate to read, and my daughter loves to read. Why is that? What did I do differently with my boys than with my girl?

Early Literacy: This Journey Begins Early

Well, with my first two kids the family daily schedule was going to working full-time, school, aftercare, cooking dinner, homework, baths, and then bed leading to exhausting days. I occasionally fit in a bed time story when I felt up to it… then wake up the next morning at 6AM and repeat.

Sound familiar? I have to attribute my boys school success to their wonderful teachers; however, it began to sink in that their lack of enthusiasm for reading possibly fell on me. When I learned about research showing that by the age of two a child’s brain is as active as an adult’s and by age three their brains are more than twice as active as an adult’s, and it remains this way for the next ten years of their lives.

That’s when I realized how a child’s journey with literacy begins at birth. So, I took action and began reading to my youngest when she was still in my tummy. After she was born, I found ways to read to her while she was in her crib. My husband and I worked together to figure out how to cut 15 to 30 minutes out of our hectic evening schedules to make room for reading time.

6 Tips do Make Room for Reading Time

  1. Cook enough dinner, so we would have leftovers the next day.

  2. Cook healthy 30-minute meals.

  3. Get the kids to help around the house.

  4. Have my boys start homework while at aftercare.

  5. Cut back on TV time.

  6. Create a reading zone.

What I soon discovered as my daughter grew older is how our reading together created a bonding and learning experience for both of us. Now she is starting to question the logic in some kid’s books and is growing into an inquisitive reader and listener.

Encouraging Critical Thinking

By the age of three more than 85% of their brain is developed. Their young brains are sponges at this stage and ready to learn new things. I believe this to be true. One evening we were reading a story and she said, “Mommy, rocks don’t roll up the hill, they roll down. So, how do the rocks carry other rocks up the hill if they have no hands or feet? That doesn’t make any sense. Why didn’t the author give the rocks hands and feet? That would make the story more real.” At a young age my girl was learning critical thinking!

As parents, we need to take advantage of this time frame and fill their brains with as much information as we possibly can. Thus, early reading, I believe, makes a huge difference in how we look at the world around us, process information, and encourage creative solution thinking. I had to figure out how to get my boys interested in reading while young brains were still developing at such a critical age. They did not have the same literacy start in life that my daughter had, so how was I going to fix this?

The Right Books Can Turn Kids Into Bookworms!

I noticed at book fairs there were certain books they would buy and read in one day. So, they did LIKE to read! Once I figured out that they really loved books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kids and Captain Underpants. This tells me that all kids love to read, they just need to find the right books and turn into readers! So, I knew I could turn my boys into readers!

How can parents use this information to their advantage?

Suggestions for Raising a Child That Loves to Read

  1. Don’t wait. Start now. If you’re pregnant, start reading to your unborn child.

  2. Make story time part of your daily routine.

  3. Be a child with your child. When reading, make the experience entertaining, fun, and enjoyable to encourage reading. Give the characters a voice and bring the story to life as you read.

  4. Create your own stories via oral story telling. Pull on your child’s creative mind and imagination: Ask questions such as: Where will the story take place? Who will be the main character? Will there be a villain? What will the story be about?

  5. Turn playtime at home and the playground into story time.

  6. Try different books and see which type sticks with your child. See which shows the child loves to watch and find books that depicts that genre. (detective, mystery, funny, mystical creatures, space, animals, video game characters, etc.)

  7. While driving or walking with a child or giving the child a bath, turn it into story time using the things around you.

  8. Be creative when conversing with a preschooler. Use short sentences and spell some of the words. Example: Suzie, I said, “n-o”… “Y-e-s, we can g-o.”

Above all, be sure the experience is enjoyable, playful, and encourages children’s active involvement. Literacy should be engaging for both you and your children, not a chore.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

Early literacy matters they say. Yes, it matters! Reading is Key! Start now!

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