parenting

Literacy: How to Help Your Kids Love Reading and Writing

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As parents, most of us have heard how important it is to encourage a love of reading and writing early in our children’s developmental process. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.

The key to literacy is one's reading development, which begins with comprehension of spoken words and the ability to decode written words. There are several tips that LiteracyConnections.com has provided on their website for parents to become more active in establishing a love of reading and writing in their children.

How to Help Your Kids Love Reading and Writing

Start to read to your children at a very young age. Don't wait until you think your child is "old enough to be read to." Literacy Connections recommends the habit of reading to your child start well before their first birthday.

Make reading at bedtime a habit. This might take some time to establish but soon you will both be looking forward to this nightly routine.

Have your child help pick out the books he/she would like to have in their regular rotation. This can be hard if they want you to read the same books over and over again, but your child will gain a lot from these repeated readings; it will help them both emotionally and prepare them for when they start reading on their own.

Make it fun. Look at the pictures together and roar like a lion, squeak like a mouse or just be silly together looking at the illustrations. The more a child has a positive connection to reading, the more likely they will continue reading on their own for enjoyment once they learn how to read.

Make up new stories. The art of storytelling and writing is a wonderful skill that can be developed with practice. You can use pictures from children’s books or magazines and create a whole new story.

Programs that Support Literacy

Some programs that support literacy include First Book and Jet Blue and PBS Kids “Soar with Reading” program, both of which provide books to low income families and communities that might not have the money to purchase books for their children or centers.

Mrs. P, one of the most popular entertainment and educational sites for kids online, promotes a love of reading and writing by hosting an annual Be-A-Famous Writer Contest that students from the ages of 4-13 years of age can enter. Kathy Kinney of the Drew Carey Show acts as Mrs. P and offers storytelling via YouTube.

They work with teachers who make this writing contest a classroom project! The winners in the two categories 4-8 years of age and 9-13 years of age have their book professionally illustrated and made into a hard cover book. This year, they are working with some top judges, including Julia Roberts, Melina Gerosa Bellows, the VP and CCO of the National Geographic Kids, and Mary Frances Smith Reynolds, a teacher.

I had a chance to speak to Ms. Kinney who says that “she is convinced that children who read and exercise this skill will grow up to help solve problems and world affairs.” You can read more about the contest and what Mrs. P has to offer at www.mrsp.com.

It is so wonderful to see organizations like Jet Blue/PBS Kids “Soar with Reading” program and Mrs. P provide books and contests that encourage these important life skills. Literacy is a lifelong intellectual process that benefits individuals and the world around them.

 How do you help your kids develop a love of reading? What are their favorite books to read?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

References:

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) www.unesco.org
  • Literacy Connections: www.literacyconnections.com
  • Mrs. P Be-A-Famous-Writer Contest: www.mrsp.com
  • Jet Blue/PBS Kids “Soar with Reading” Program: www.soarwithreading.com

Melissa Northway, M.S. is a mom, writer, and children’s book author. Her award-winning book "Penelope the Purple Pirate" was inspired by her little tomboy. Penelope is a modern-day Pippi Longstocking who teaches girls and boys the importance of having fun while teaching them to be kind and respectful of others and their differences. You can reach Melissa at: www.melissanorthway and follow her @melissanorthway.

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