Reading is fundamental. It affects all areas of a child’s success. And summertime is a great time to make reading a priority.
Dr. Amy McCollum is a pediatrician at Midtown Pediatrics in Birmingham. She says it is important for parents to encourage strong reading habits in their child, and she says that begins at birth. “I would really encourage parents from birth to start reading to their baby,” she says. “Holding your child and reading a book together is going to have these great associations of attachment and connection. Your voice, which is the most comforting voice, is going to be what they hear.”
As the child gets older, Dr. McCollum says parents should encourage their child to choose what books they want to read. And she adds, don’t worry if they stick with the same theme, or want to read the same book over and over; they’re still reading. Make library visits a regular part of your summer. Dr. McCollum says if you are able, choose one day a week that is a library day. “Talk to the librarian, let them suggest books the child might like,” she says. “Check out books on a regular basis and sign up for summer reading programs at the library.” Again, Dr. McCollum says as the child gets older, continue to let them choose the books they are interested in. “I think sticking with the topic of letting them choose what they’re interested in is important,” she says. “For instance, if your son only wants to read graphic novels instead of chapter books, that’s fine if that’s what he enjoys.”
As kids get older, encouraging good reading habits can be challenging, as video games and devices serve as constant distractions. Dr. McCollum knows this firsthand. “We just have to fight to fight. In my family 30 minutes of reading gets you 30 minutes of video game time,” she says. And parents should ask themselves, am I modeling good reading habits to my child, or am I spending my free time on a device? By putting forth a little bit of effort and intentionality, any child can become a reader.
-Children’s of Alabama, www.childrensal.org