Posted on March 1, 2022 at 6:00 am
Raising a child as a reader can start at any time, even now. Whether you have a baby, a preschooler, or even a 12-year-old, it is never too early or too late to see the many benefits of reading to children.
Most people think of language development when thinking about the benefits of reading with kids, and language development is extremely important.
Did you know that reading with your child also helps develop cognitive skills, listening skills, and builds their attention span? Kids who are read to regularly by parents and caregivers also have a more expansive vocabulary, and reading fiction has been linked to building social-emotional skills.
To learn more about the benefits and the best ways to read to your child, I recommend this article from Healthline, “Reading to Children: Why It’s So Important and How to Start,” for a concise overview of the importance of reading and how to read to kids at different ages.
Of course, the library is a great place to access resources for reading with your child. Our most abundant resource is the large variety of wonderful books on our shelves and on our digital platforms! With so many books to choose from, browsing can sometimes feel overwhelming.
A great resource for parents looking for book suggestions is our monthly Picture Book Chats program, with librarians Sheri and Mary Ellen, who share new picture books to enjoy with your child as well as book-inspired activities. If you miss the monthly program, you can view previous episodes on our YouTube channel.
When you are in the library, our children’s librarians are happy to help you find books to meet your family’s needs, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can also use our Book Butler service to have books selected for you by library staff. We match up to 4–6 titles with your criteria, and then you can check them out via curbside or in the library.
Storytime introduces young children and their parents to new books as well as fun songs, fingerplays, and rhymes. Not only that, storytime is a place where parents can learn about early literacy and ways they can support their child’s learning.
Right now, we have online storytime options for families to enjoy.
Storytime Shorts are pre-recorded storytimes with our librarians that you can view on our Facebook page on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am, or at any time on our YouTube playlist. Reading with kids should always be a positive experience, and Storytime Shorts are a great way to enjoy storytime with your child when you know they are in the right mood.
For a storytime experience that is similar to our in-person storytimes in the library, you can sign up for Online Storytimes – Live, which take place on Zoom. Once you register for the program, you’ll receive an email with the Zoom link and can enjoy storytime from the comfort of home. Kids can even wear their pajamas and eat their dinner or breakfast during storytime!
We are looking forward to when storytimes can be in-person again. If you are also looking forward to in-person storytimes, you can check our event calendar periodically to see when your library’s storytimes will be starting back up.
Even when we know something is important, it can be hard to start a new routine. If you’re struggling to start a reading routine with your child, maybe our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten reading challenge on Beanstack will provide the motivation you need.
Reading 1000 books sounds daunting, but if you read just one book a day (even the same book a few times), you’ll have reached your goal in less than three years. For more information about this program, check out the blog post 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program Fosters Early Literacy Skills, by fellow librarian Mary Ellen Braks.
For kids older than kindergarten, you can still use Beanstack to track reading and join fun reading challenges throughout the year.
STARS Training classes are offered by the library. These classes are geared for preschool and childcare providers, who receive ongoing learning credits required by the state for each class. But you don’t have to be a childcare provider to attend!
Parents are always welcome to participate in STARS Training classes. These classes are on a variety of topics, and they always include ways to use books with your child to help them develop important early learning skills. You can find more information about STARS classes and see a schedule of upcoming classes on our website.
If you prefer information in bite-sized chunks, checkout our Early Learning Tip videos on YouTube. Each video is between 1 and 4 minutes long and offers a tip to help your child develop skills to get them ready for kindergarten.
While there is no way to guarantee a child will grow up to be a reader, the most effective way to encourage a love of books and reading is to read to your child. You can make reading a positive experience and start now, whatever their age. Starting young is ideal, but reading together at any age is worth it—even independent readers and older children benefit from reading time with you!