In my work as a reading tutor at the elementary school, one thing becomes very clear: children who are read to at home become good readers. The wonderful world of books is opened to them, their eyes are wide, and they are eager to learn what is within the pages. Children who are not read to at home have a disadvantage. They have not heard the rhythm of words that make the music of poetry. They’ve never experienced the enjoyment that comes as the expression in their parent’s voice makes the story comes alive. Their imagination is not fired. This saddens me greatly. As Gabriela Mistral said, “Many things we need can wait. The child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today.” No matter how dedicated and loving a teacher is, he or she has about twenty-five children to teach, and the individual child is not going to get the personal attention that a parent could give. Marilyn Jager Adams said, “Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Every day parents and other volunteers come to the school to give a little extra help in reading and math. I have seen the children I tutor make wonderful strides forward. But think of what an advantage they could have had if their mother and father had read to them.
Parents, please take the time out of your busy day to sit down and read stories to your children. Expose them to the classics, laugh with them in the silly stories, and cry over sad stories. Take them on fantastic journeys and amazing adventures without ever leaving their bedside. All it will cost is a bit of your time. Foster in them a love of books, for this is a greater treasure than any material gift that you could give them.
Image from Ilona Andrews