Some keys to finding your way around the shelves of libraries and bookstores.
All teachers say it: if parents read stories to their children regularly, many difficulties could be avoided in elementary school. You don’t enter language and reading with a wave of a magic wand, but by soaking in what some experts have conceptualized as a “language bath.”
But beware: the “language bath” should not be limited to a trickle of lukewarm water. There is a widespread cliché that says as long as your child reads — whatever the content, regardless of the quality — that’s all that matters. Not so. Later on, the child may technically know how to read, but not enjoy reading. This is the situation of many teenagers who, as early as middle school, are expected to read classic literature.
Why does this happen? Because you can’t go straight from stories with three lines per page and subject-verb sentences to Shakespeare, whose style will have the same effect as reading a foreign language.
So here are three things to think about to give your child a taste for reading.
1Take care of the child's needs while having fun at the same time
Early childhood is the age when we can take the imagination quite far, because it is the age when we are most receptive. Pleasure comes from being close to the one who reads, as publishing professionals constantly remind us. A pitfall: when the one having fun buying the book and reading it is the adult, losing sight of what the little ones need. Be sure to include them!
2Don't spend too much time on early books
Many parents complain that finding books that really tell a story, with an appropriate amount and level of text and appropriate illustrations, takes hours of searching in the bookstore, especially due to the lack of reliable editorial guidelines. Many books labeled “5+ years” have a level of language that is well within the reach of 3-year-olds. Toddler books are perfect when little ones are learning to speak (their great passion is just to name things, to expand their vocabulary). But if you spend too much time on them, you risk missing the mark.
By gradually building up their abilities, we can interest children very early on in the great stories of our heritage. First, you start by telling the stories more or less faithfully by simply embroidering on the images. Then the text is read (making sure you set the right intonation), an essential step in getting the child into the music of written language, the importance of which is often underestimated.
3Think about varying styles
It is also necessary to give in to the requests to hear the same story 20 times — because the pleasure of repetition is essential and useful, imprinting sentence structure, verb tenses, and the whole logic oflanguage in the child’s memory. It is also necessary to think of varying genres to avoid getting overly habituated to one style (there is life beyond Disney!), mixing classic tales and contemporary stories.