The Importance of Reading with our Children

Reading is the best activity for building a child’s brain. Children hear and learn the meanings of new words and associate pictures with the words they hear.

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D.

Reading is the best activity for building a child’s brain. Children hear and learn the meanings of new words and associate pictures with the words they hear. Reading is a relaxing time for children, as they get ready for bed or need a calm, mid-afternoon activity. Being calm helps their body prepare to learn new concepts, colors, and words. Don’t be afraid to picture read to your child, making up the story plot as you go. Anytime a child hears new words and develops a new language, it is time well spent.

Children love repetition. Books that contain meaningful story plots and songs that they can hear over and over are the best-loved stories. Find a comfortable and cozy space to read, away from the television and other technology, where you can cuddle up to read. However, I am not opposed to having a child watch the book online. Preview it ahead of time to ensure it is geared correctly for your child’s age. The technology piece should not be the only media your child hears. The human voice makes new connections in the brain much better than technology does.

While reading, compare the names of human body parts to those of animals. Ask your child to make the same noise that the animal makes. Ask questions as you read about what your child thinks the character is doing or might do. Point out colors using the primary colors and compare them to items your child already knows: green like the grass, blue like the sky, red like a fire engine, yellow like the sun, etc. Use the main words for colors; then, add navy blue, aqua, lime, emerald, etc. Children who hear over 10,000 words before they go to kindergarten are better prepared for school and have better use of language than children who do not.

Point out the letters in your child’s name and the sound they make. Ask your child if they know what the letters mean or help your child determine the meaning. Tag a new word with a picture for developing a better vocabulary.

As you search for books, look for those that offer rhyming phrases and ask your child if they have heard the same sounds. Look for other books that you can sing with. Combining music and movement helps develop your child’s vestibular system.

Helping children develop a love for reading is crucial during their young years. As you explore books like The Hungry Caterpillar, extend your child’s learning by making a caterpillar, cutting out the fruits or vegetables the caterpillar will eat, or do a Google search for matching program activities.

To expand your knowledge of reading, the Danbury Library has staff that can help you choose books that are age-appropriate. You can also attend a Play to Learn Playgroup on Wednesdays at the Danbury School Early Childhood Center at 17 Cottage Street. Playgroups are held at 10:00 and are free to all families. For more information, call 203-797-4734.

Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or meadan@danbury.k12.