BY MARY BARBERIO
APRIL IS HOST to a number of reading-re-lated holidays: School Library Month,
“Drop Everything and Read Day,” National
Library Week, National Bookmobile Day,
National Readathon Day and Children’s
Book Day. The focus on reading and literacy
is a reminder of how important it is to
develop the skill of reading.
Why the urgency? Studies estimate that
up to one-fourth of all children in the U.S.
are unable to do their homework because
they can’t read at their grade level—and if
they lack the skills to read proficiently at
the fourth-grade level, they probably won’t
catch up. They might lose interest and drop
out of school.
It then becomes a continual struggle to
read and comprehend, whether it’s a form,
a prescription drug label, a paycheck or a
tax return. The impact on society?
Astronomical, considering that research
has shown how functional illiteracy has
been linked to welfare, crime and high
health care costs. Society as a whole suffers.
Here’s a look at how we can fight this
unfortunate chain of events.
Start at birth. “Learning begins at birth,
and it is important for children to be
engaged in storytelling and interacting
with the written word through books at a
young age,” says Aubrey Bourgeois, communications specialist at Reading Is Fundamental (RIF;
Whether babies and toddlers are listening to your voice, soaking up the language, focusing on the pictures or just
learning how to turn pages, they are learning the basics. Positive connections are
being formed to reading and learning.
“Books play an essential role in a child’s
development and learning, and are the
building blocks for a better future,” says
Have plenty of books around. A variety
of books is good, but it’s especially important to choose ones that will grab your child’s
attention, whether they’re about dinosaurs
or fairy tales or the latest series. Go to your
local bookseller or your closest library, or
perhaps an organization such as RIF can
RIF, which celebrated its ;;th anniver-
sary in November ;;;;, is the nation’s old-
est and largest nonprofit children’s literacy
organization, and each year they distribute
millions of books to kids who need them
most. To date, RIF has distributed some ;;;
million books to ;; million children and in
all ;; states.
Motivate. The National Education
nea.org) knows that motivating
kids to read is an essential factor in succeeding in school, so it came up with a program
called Read Across America Day to celebrate
and promote reading. On that day, teachers,
librarians, bookstores and communities
nationwide host fun-filled reading activities. The date of this annual celebration?
March ;, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, of course.
Set an example and read. “One of the
most important things parents can do for
their children to encourage reading is to
model that process for them. Let your child
see you making time to read,” says high
school English teacher Molly Delp, from
Jonesboro, Arkansas. “Children model
what they see, and parents have a much
bigger influence in this department than
Encourage your children to read. “I
always found that the kids who read the
most were the ones who were read to as
babies and toddlers,” says elementary
school teacher/librarian and Costco member Donna Parlier, of The Villages, Florida.
She looks for books that will grab their
attention so they’ll want to read more.
Her husband, elementary school
teacher Ed Parlier, agrees that kids who are
read to, read. He adds, “When children
start to discover that the things they are
learning appear in the books they read [or
are read to from], they see a purpose in
learning and reading.”
And let’s not forget the wise counsel of
Dr. Seuss. As he said in I Can Read with My
“The more that you read, the more
things you will know.
“The more you learn, the more places
you’ll go.” C
Costco member Mary Barberio is a freelance
writer living in The Villages, Florida.
Costco’s book department offers a variety of
material for all ages, from picture books for
toddlers to reading and rhyming books for
youngsters to entertaining reads for teens
and young adults. Books of all types,
educational toys and games for infant and
preschool-age children, as well as electronics and tech toys, and items for pretend and
outdoor play, are also available year-round
It’s never too early to develop literacy skills
• Provide a fun environment.
• Read the same books often.
• Play with toys and games involving the
alphabet or letter/sound associations:
– Jigsaw puzzles.
– Alphabet magnets.
– I Spy.
• Use rhymes, songs and poems to
help with repetitive sounds at the
beginning and end of words.
• Sing the alphabet song.
• Use pictures to build vocabulary.—MB
QUICK TIPS FOR
READING TO TODDLERS