“Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.”
Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children
Young children learn about the world around them through books. Children are naturally drawn to fun and humorous stories. Cognitively, books teach children about new topics and build their vocabulary by using complex language. Books help children increase their thinking and reasoning skills, as well as to emotionally connect with a character. Books help children realize that they are not the only person in the world to think or feel the way they are feeling and that is okay to dream. Finally, books help children connect with others. Reading time should be a guarded time of the classroom day that is remembered by children with fond memories for years to come. Before we can build these connections, we must first get books into the hands of children. They must learn how books feel, how to turn the pages, and the enjoyment that comes from reading. They must also learn that stories have characters, plots, and the language of stories. As teachers, we can help children develop a love of reading by providing shared readings in large group, small group, and individual settings throughout the day, by reading with expression, and by making books come alive – through retellings, rereadings, props, and puppets. Reading is an accrued skill and does require direct instruction, but you can help children by utilizing big books during shared reading events to draw attention to individual words or letters, use picture clues to help make predictions, ask open-ended questions, and point to the text as you read. After all, the best gift you can give a child is a love of books and reading!