By Cynthia A. Frosch, PhD
Most parents know the power of reading with their children. Yet, when given a book, many parents think they have to follow the words exactly and stick to the storyline.
But books are about more than just “reading” words! Books offer a window into the lives of others and can support children as they face a variety of issues and challenges. For example, a book about anger can be used to help your child label and discuss his own anger. A book about a new baby can help a child adjust to the addition of a new baby brother or sister. For a child who becomes interested in dinosarus, books can take her interest to a new level of knowledge and enjoyment.
There are many ways that parents and adults can share books with young children. And there isn’t necessarily one right or wrong way. In fact, different styles may work better for different kids and different parents. A child who is very interested in looking at books may sit on your lap and enjoy listening to stories for 1/2 hour. Another child may prefer matching up the pictures in books to his own toys. Or listening to books on tape — an activity that allows her to move around the room at the same time.
Regardless of how you choose to use books in your family, one thing remains the same – the importance of sensitive and responsive interactions with parents or caregivers. This is where The READY Method can be implemented. When you are aware of your child’s needs and interests around literacy and are able to adjust your perspective to follow your child, you are providing the most powerful link to literacy — a fun and loving context for learning.
The next time your child shows an interest in a particular book or topic, visit the library to find more books on the topic or by the same author. And if your child wants to explore books a bit less “conventionally”, give it a try. (I’ll admit to having read the last page first a few times in my life.)