Parents play a key role in fostering children’s love of reading



Reading books with your child means children learn to connect reading with feelings of warmth and sharing.
(Shutterstock)

Lorraine Reggin, University of Calgary; Penny Pexman, University of Calgary; Sheri Madigan, University of Calgary, and Susan Graham, University of Calgary

Learning to read is one of the most important developmental achievements of childhood, and it sets the stage for later school and life success. But learning to read is not straightforward. As child development researchers, parents often ask us how they can help their children to become good readers.

Parents can play a key role in supporting the development of children’s early language skills and fostering a love of reading, before and after children start formal schooling.

Literacy begins early

The building blocks of literacy are laid down during infancy. Even newborn babies’ brains are sensitive to the sounds and complexities of language. Babies don’t just need to hear language, they need to participate in language too.

Even though babies may only be able to say sounds like “ga,” “ba,” and “da,” they benefit from having these sounds repeated back to them in what are called conversational turns. A recent study found that the number of conversational turns between babies and parents is a key ingredient to building language skills.

The number of conversational turns between babies and parents is key to building language skills.
(Shutterstock)

So, when your baby says “ba,” respond. You can repeat “ba” or ask “Is that so?” or try to guess what they are saying (“Did you see a ball?”).

We know that babies who hear more words, speak more words and who hear more complex language produce more complex language later in childhood. These language skills help children get ready to read.

Early childhood

As babies turn into toddlers and preschoolers, their language gets more complex and they start to build the knowledge of words that they will eventually need for reading. By building language skills, preschoolers are also developing the attention, memory and thinking skills that will prepare them for school.

Preschoolers benefit from having books read to them. When parents read to children, it helps build children’s vocabulary and expands conversations. You can start with short picture books like Goodnight Moon and move onto longer picture books like Where the Wild Things Are or Corduroy.

Preschoolers also learn important language skills during play. Board games, games like “I Spy,” singalongs and acting out stories all help build the language skills they need for learning to read. When parents interact and talk out loud with toddlers and preschoolers during play, it supports the child’s learning of sounds and words.

Reading books and talking with your child helps your child build a positive attitude towards language and literacy.
(Shutterstock)

Having conversations, reading books to your child and playing with your child are all activities that help your child build a positive attitude towards language and literacy. They will learn to connect reading with feelings of warmth and sharing. You can encourage them to choose the books, and the place where you will read them, and in turn start to foster their identity as a reader. These positive experiences support your child’s emotional and intellectual development.

Ready to read

Researchers have long debated how children learn how to read, and how best to teach them. Today, it is clear that children need explicit phonics instruction (learning which sounds match different letters), lots of practice, and support for understanding written material. This means that children must learn how to “crack the code” of reading.

Children need to learn that lines, curves and dots make up a letter and that each letter matches to a sound. Although the English language has 26 letters, these letters make up 44 different sounds. Children start to learn that the letters are paired up with certain sounds through various activities at school, and you can help your child practise when they read out loud to you at home.

Once children have learned to map sounds to letters, they need to learn to map the sounds to meaning or match the sounds to the words they know. They also need to build reading fluency. Fluency means reading accurately, smoothly and with expression. As a child gains fluency, they read more naturally, faster and more easily.

As a child gains reading fluency, they read faster.
(Shutterstock)

Parent tips for early readers

Most children begin home reading programs in Grade 1 and continue with home reading into grades 2 and 3. Below are some suggestions for nurturing and building a positive home reading experience.

  1. Try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for reading time.

  2. Consider the factors that set reading up for success in your home. For example: What times of day might work best for your child to do their home reading with you? Where do they most like to read, on the couch or in their bed?

  3. Practise reading books that are simple and easy for your child to repeat. If your child cannot get through the book, the level may be too advanced.

  4. Point out periods and commas where your child should pause, and talk about using different voices. Point out different kinds of expressions. For example, if the character in the story said “STOP IT,” you could explain to your child that they could use a louder voice.

  5. Indulge and support your child’s love of certain stories. The best way for children to become fluent readers on their own is through practice, and repeating beloved stories is one way to encourage practice.

  6. Continue to read to your child. When parents read, children can listen and enjoy books that they wouldn’t be able to read yet. This helps build their vocabulary and enjoyment.

  7. Check your child’s understanding of the book. You can help your child by asking questions before, during and after reading. Your questions create opportunities for conversation. You might ask questions like:

“Why do you think the children snuck downstairs?”

“Does this story remind you of anything we have done?”

“Leaped is an interesting word. What does that mean? Do you know another word we could have used there?”

Then you could mention jumped, hopped or skipped.

Some children will learn to read more quickly than others, but all children need practice to become skilled readers. A consistent home reading program can start children on the path to literacy and all of its benefits.

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Lorraine Reggin, PhD student, Cognitive Psychology, University of Calgary; Penny Pexman, Professor of Psychology, University of Calgary; Sheri Madigan, Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development, Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of Calgary, and Susan Graham, Professor and Director, Owerko Centre, University of Calgary

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Restoring a Love of Reading


The link below is to an article that looks at how to restore a love for reading.

For more visit:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/aug/24/book-clinic-restore-love-literature-reading-stories

Advice on Getting Young Non-Readers Into Books


Do you find it difficult to share your love of reading with the kids? Perhaps you are frustrated that the kids love digital games more than reading. The link below is to an article that may provide some help in getting young non-readers into books and reading.

For more visit:
https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jul/12/helping-non-readers-love-books-librarians-and-othe/

Best Books About Love Set in 100 Countries Around the World


The link below is to an article and infographic that takes a look at the best books about love set in 100 countries around the world.

For more visit:
https://ebookfriendly.com/best-books-about-love-100-countries-infographic/

Love of bookshops in a time of Amazon and populism



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Saturday is Love Your Bookshop Day –
but bookshops face many challenges.
Shutterstock

Nathan Hollier, Monash University

There was genuine positivity at this year’s Australian Booksellers’ Association Conference in Melbourne in June. The mood was one of camaraderie and optimism at the sharing of good news. And it only brightened with the news that our National Bookshop Day was to be rebranded this year as Love Your Bookshop Day. Why not?

Saturday is that day. Expect to see your local bookshop buntinged, postered, streamered and perhaps offering special bargains. Assuming, of course, you have a local bookshop.

Store numbers have steadied in recent years and, as was reported at the conference, both independent and chain or franchise booksellers are expanding. Children’s book sales in particular are performing well. (“The bookshop is dead. Long live the bookshop,” reads a plaque at Embiggen Books in Melbourne’s CBD.)

But over the past couple of decades the sector has wrestled with the challenges of superstores, GST, the GFC, one-sided international post deals, ebooks and online-only undercutters.

Now the greatest of these online stores, certainly in terms of market share, will soon be competing with Australian bookstores from a new base here. Amazon has secured a massive distribution centre site near Dandenong in outer-eastern Melbourne. Dire predictions for parts of the Australian retail sector have already been made.

Local booksellers too will need to adjust to this new environment, in which Amazon will likely reduce its delivery time and charges significantly. This will place downward pressure on book prices, and thus booksellers’ margins and capacity to survive.

Amazon has itself experimented with physical bookstores in recent times, to underwhelming reviews, but its primary focus has, of course, been on being able to offer “everything” at the “everyday low prices” of its American precursors (and sometime role models), Walmart and Costco.

Today’s booksellers must choose what to put on their shelves from around 7,000 new releases each month. As all of these will be on the “shelves” of Amazon, local booksellers will need to maintain an intimate knowledge of what will appeal to their customer base.

This curatorial role, which has always been part of what good booksellers do, takes on extra importance in the digital age. Curating, one might say, is the opposite approach to that of Amazon, which instead expertly removes barriers to purchasing, encouraging impulse buying. The extra services local booksellers provide, in addition to low prices and the range of stock, will likely need beefing up also. Community building will be the order of the day.

The current shrinkage of review pages of broadsheet newspapers will also hurt many bookshops, as they depend on a degree of consensus as to what is important and valuable to read.

Price instability may well grow in Australia with the arrival of Amazon. Publishers have argued over the decades that this instability also discourages consumer confidence.

The Productivity Commission doesn’t accept arguments in favour of maintaining price levels for some products in order to keep the costs of others down. But regulatory bodies have special challenges when confronted with large, diverse conglomerates, such as Amazon. It has the capacity to drop prices for products in one category (such as books) to maximise competitiveness, while the overall bottom line is propped up by more profitable parts of the business (such as Amazon Web Services).

In the face of aggressive price cutting from firms like … well, Amazon … regulatory bodies concerned with fair prices for consumers are yet to find an effective means of properly accounting for the fact that its success has been partly based on exploiting publicly developed (and funded) technology and infrastructure, determined strategies of tax minimisation, aggressive use of IP and patent law, and sustained intransigence towards its workforce’s self-organisation and unionisation.

Andy Griffiths: a bookshop favourite.
Carol Cho/AAP

On Tuesday morning this past week, a crowd of parents and kids waited in the cold out the front of our local suburban bookshop till, at 9 o’clock, they could rush in and buy the latest Treehouse book, by Andy Griffiths. The bookseller handed out free copies of a quality cookbook to parents. Community spirit, human connectedness and customer loyalty all bloomed nicely.

As the legendary Collins bookseller, Michael Zifcack, recalled in his memoirs,
“I realised early on that customer service was the secret of successful bookselling.”

I’ll be heading to that local shop on Saturday, but can also, of course, appreciate the access to more or less every available product that online shopping provides. No doubt there is room for both retail models within our society.

What remains most important, when thinking about the health of the book industry here, is that no matter how cheap we make these products, there won’t be effective demand for them unless people have the time and desire to read.

The ConversationThis desire, in turn, rests most powerfully on the belief that what one knows and says matters; that democracy, its public sphere, and reason, evidence and logic are the driving forces of one’s society. For all of us, that challenge is ongoing and, broadly speaking, we will get the books and bookshops we deserve.

Nathan Hollier, Director, Monash University Publishing, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.