Whether it’s reading aloud to your child, taking a trip together to the library or being a reading role model, celebrate National Family Literacy Month this November by helping to foster your child’s love of the written word.
Parents who read to their children every day and talk about what they are reading together promote a joy of reading and literacy achievement. In fact, the daily activity of reading together strengthens a child’s reading and communication skills as well as the parent/child relationship.
However, fewer than half (48 percent) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily, meaning that more than 13 million children under the age of five go to bed every night without a bedtime story. The percentage of children read to daily drops even lower (to 36 percent) among low-income families. Even among high-income families, more than two out of every five children are not read to daily.
To help create more meaningful reading experiences between children and their families as well as to boost parent involvement and student achievement, a pair of New York state teachers spearheaded a new reading program in their home school district that focuses on encouraging reading at home.
“Because we’re both parents, we understand how important it is to read with your children,” said Jessica Melchior, who teaches fourth-grade in the Schalmont Central School District [www.schalmont.org]. “I think about how significant it is when I’m reading with my sons, and it hits home just how many people don’t have the time to read together.”
She added that children respond well to reading with a parent, which helps instill a longer-lasting love of reading.
But, the pair is not focused on just parents reading with their children.
“The idea is to get siblings, friends and other family members involved as well,” said Schalmont eighth-grade English teacher Elisa Pepe.
Often responsibilities at work, commitment to community activities and children’s extracurricular activities make it difficult for parents to carve out time to read with their children.
“Everyone knows that reading is important,” said Pepe. “I just think we need a vehicle to help families overcome those obstacles.”
To that end, they plan to model and offer guidance to families in reading together and engaging in reading through special events and activities, such as read-alouds, contests, raffles, book swaps, online videos and much more.
“We know it’s hard to get children to read, which is why we’re here to help–not point a finger,” said Pepe.
It’s likely your child’s school offers special reading opportunities as well. Consider tapping your child’s teacher or school librarian to find out, or visit the links below for ideas to get children of all ages reading.
Learn more about National Family Literacy Month, and download a parent guide to build reading skills in children ages birth to eight. Publication will be available on Nov. 12.
Visit Reading Rockets to access a variety of literacy resources for parents of young children.
Find practical ways to encourage your high school child to become a reader at How High School Child Read
Audrey Hendricks has more than 10 years of public relations experience. Since 2006, she has been serving as a communciations specialist with Capital Region BOCES Communications Service for a variety of local school districts. Prior to joining BOCES, she worked for a real estate trade association. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Plattsburgh State University of New York. She is a full-time working mom and wife who loves reading with her son, Tate, 19 months.