Sep 23, 2012

Never Too Young to Be a Booklover!

Is it book club time already?
Next best thing to a beach read!

So what's the right age to get books into the hands of a child?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these should say it all. My twin great-niece and great-nephew agreed to share their opinions about this topic as an introduction to our guest blogger. 

I'm proud to have a multigenerational reputation in my family as "the book aunt", but books alone won't create this result. These wee ones have had hands-on, ears-on lap time with books since they were born. This is obviously not a household that needs tips on ways to share books with tots. 

But not all parents were raised this way themselves, and not all have a wide repertoire of book-sharing skills on which to draw naturally and automatically.

Naptime books- so relaxing.
Hmm... Looks good.

My favorite author...
I couldn't agree more.

Is this the one you suggested?

So many books, so little time- until naps!

On behalf of this cutie twosome, I'm happy to introduce guest blogger Susan Marx. She and her writing partner, Barbara Kasok, are mothers, grandmothers, reading professionals, and consultants. Susan is also a parent educator who facilitates workshops on topics such as fostering children's self-esteem and school readiness.  Susan and Barbara have written HELP ME GET READY TO READ: The Practical Guide For Reading Aloud To Children During Their First Five Years. I'll add some comments about their book at the end of the post, but let's see what Susan has to say about tots and books based on information provided in HELP ME GET READY TO READ. 

"Creating a Love of Books and Learning
Parents often ask us how they can create a love of books and learning in their young children. We respond by telling them that there are three essential key ideas they should focus on to do so. Simply stated, they are:
• Provide a nurturing environment in which little ones can thrive.
• Choose good age-appropriate picture books to engage children in conversations about the text and illustrations.
• Read aloud effectively so that children acquire the early literacy concepts and skills they need to be ready to learn to read.

Creating a love of books and learning in our little ones begins with providing a nurturing environment. For children to blossom and grow into lifelong lovers of books and learning, they need to feel comfortable in their surroundings whether at home, at childcare or in a preschool setting. Also, they need to feel the gentle encouragement and support of the trusted adults who care for them as well as serve as positive role models in their young lives.

Reading aloud books to little ones in a nurturing environment has a tremendous impact on their healthy emotional, social, language, and cognitive development. During the read-aloud experience, caring adults foster young children’s self-esteem so they feel competent and confident in their ability to learn new things, and engage in creative and imaginative meaningful activities. Furthermore, reading aloud effectively in a nurturing environment ensures a close emotional connection between adult and child. It provides a source for wonderful memories by giving children the loving message:
I want to read this book to you because I care about you, I respect
you, and I value our time together.

Here are some positive parenting strategies for creating a love of books and learning in young children. They deal specifically with ways that a nurturing environment can be established by parents in the home as well as by childcare providers and preschool staff in group settings.

1. Foster children’s self-esteem and encourage conversation
• Keep in mind each child's age and stage of development, interests, and attention span.
• Give each child “Positive Parenting Praise!” by acknowledging the new skill that he or she has acquired. For example, “Good job holding the book” or “Good job watching as I move my finger under the words on the page.”
• Find a quiet place to read together, such as a cozy corner, sofa, or chair.
• Turn off the TV.
• Try not to answer the phone or respond to e-mails.
• Make connections between story events and children’s real life experiences.
• Point out similarities and differences between read-aloud books, such as story  characters, setting, or story events.

2. Establish reading routines so that books and learning become a part of children’s every day lives
• Set up regular reading times such as at naptime, bedtime, or story hour.
• Place books in a basket or on a shelf to make them accessible to children.
• Encourage children to select books that they want to hear.
• Take books along with you when you are away from home.
• Arrange library visits as a regular activity by signing up for children’s story hours, sing-a-longs, or other family early literacy events.
• Have book swaps with other families to ensure a variety of available read-aloud books.

3. Model having a positive attitude towards books and learning.
• Tell children how much you enjoy reading books with them.
• Give books as gifts to children on special occasions.
• Laugh with children when reading books that have silly words, story events or characters.
• Handle books with care.
• Look for opportunities to learn new things and be sure to tell your children about them.
• Read books during your own free time for enjoyment and relaxation."

Thank you, Susan, for providing such a strong statement and helpful advice on behalf of young children and literacy. As toddlers become more active and verbal some adults feel less able to keep their children engaged with books. Susan and Barbara have produced a well-organized and user-friendly guide especially suited for reading with children ages three to five. It provides developmentally appropriate "talk-abouts" and "follow-up activities" for more than a dozen excellent picture books, with additional titles suggested in the back matter.

I urge parents to read a book by Mem Fox, the award-winning author and internationally acclaimed literacy expert: READING MAGIC: Why reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. Research and simple observation demonstrate that reading aloud to children in their earliest days and months of life has a dramatic positive influence on future language, learning, and literacy development. I have no doubt that adults who begin reading to a child from the earliest days and continue on beyond the school years give a priceless lifetime gift of love and literacy to that child.

Why not check these books out, and spread the word about the power of reading aloud to children at the earliest ages. 


  1. I love this, and the little ones are SO adorable!!!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jenny, and for the compliments for these two. I'll say thanks, although I get no credit for how adorable they are. Will pass it on to their parents, though!

  2. I love this post, Sandy! May I share it on my fb page?


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