Monday, September 24, 2012

Three tips for your child to go bananas over books

Pretend City is holding an exciting Curious George Pizza Party event this Thursday, September 27th. There are still a few spots still available, so hurry and order your ticket today!! With the upcoming party just a few days away, Linda Hunter, Senior Director of Education at Pretend City offers a couple of easy steps to promote literacy with your children at home.

Story telling is something that is innately human and whether it is through the pictures or words in a book, the process of discovery for children can be life changing!  I’m often asked by parents about what they can do to encourage their children to be readers.  The truth is that it’s never too early to promote literacy and that reading is a wonderful way to establish a special bonding time between you and your child.  Most adults can fondly reflect back to a time when an adult read them a story.  Carving time out of your day to spend with your child and engage in a story together helps create a life-long pattern of valuing books.

Because reading is one of the indicators of school success, we have a big emphasis on it at Pretend City Children’s Museum through our Library Exhibit and programming.  Plus, we’ve dedicated the entire month of September to honor National Literacy Month.  So here are three easy tips that can guide you to helping your child go bananas over books! 

  1. Build familiarity.  Find time on a regular basis to read with your child.  No matter if children are 6-months-old or 9-years-old (they can read to you at that point).  Make time, each and every day to include reading into your daily routine.  Over time they will associate books with their cozy parent time.  Children love repetition, they will want you to read the same book a thousand times and it doesn’t get old for them.  It’s about making books a part of their life.

  1. Create dialogue.  Look at pictures or read the words and before you turn the page, open a conversation with your child about the story.   In their early years with picture books, it can be as simple as counting the number of shapes on the page with them.  As they get older, realize that you don’t have to read something verbatim.  Talk about the story and ask questions of your child such as: “What do you think will happen next?”  A question like that helps to develop their critical thinking skills and engages them more deeply in the story and content.  Books are amazing for introducing new concepts and new words and they are an avenue to present new information in a fun way. 

  1. Tap into their interests.  Think about what your child is interested in and find books that will go along with those themes.  If your little one loves playing in the water, you can take that interest and transfer it into reading books about the ocean, ships, fish or surfing.  It’s a way to scaffold information.  If I have a 5-year-old who loves dinosaurs, use that as a base and find books to help him learn new aspects about prehistoric times.  Digging deeper into what children are naturally interested in motivates them to learn to read words themselves and builds critical skills needed to develop focus and perspective.  Over time, children will realize that books are a gateway to discovering more about all of their interests.

Linda Hunter, MA, LMFT
Senior Education Director and Chief Operations Officer, Pretend City
Linda earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development and Master's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from the prestigious Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Linda joined Pretend City in 2002 prior to its opening and has over 40 years of experience working with children and families in both the fields of early childhood education and family therapy.

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