Catherine Roche is the director of Braswell Memorial Library.

Catherine Roche is the director of Braswell Memorial Library.

Catherine Roche: Starting children out right

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Reading is an essential life skill and one that needs to be cultivated early.

Braswell Memorial Library is a participating partner of Read Aloud 15 MINUTES.

Read Aloud 15 MINUTES is a nonprofit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care.

When every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.

As a librarian, I believe that parents are children’s first and best teachers.

Long before children enter school, parents are setting the stage for success.

Spending at least 15 minutes a day engaged in reading with a child, beginning at birth, is one of the most effective investments that parents can make to prepare their child for a good start in kindergarten.

Children are born ready to learn and parents have a unique opportunity to help their babies develop. Reading time provides your child with the nurturing security of your undivided attention. Time spent reading translates into a higher aptitude for learning.

Babies benefit from books and reading even before they learn to talk. Reading aloud to babies teaches fundamental concepts that lead to reading. Babies learn how books are organized, proceeding from left to right and top to bottom across the page.

That pages turn and reveal more of the story and pictures. Babies learn that the words on the page represent language and that words and pictures together tell the story.

It’s common for children to sit and pretend to read by turning the pages and gibbering in baby talk. These early skills make it easier to learn to read when the time comes.

Reading aloud helps build basic speech skills by learning the sounds that form language. Books help build vocabulary by introducing words that are not commonly used in speech.

Knowing words and their meanings gives children the ability to understand more complex concepts and to better express themselves.

As children develop, reading time helps them learn to be still and to pay attention longer.

They learn how stories progress and that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Reading aloud develops the ability to grasp abstract concepts and to recognize cause and effect.

Children learn to relate events in books to events in their own lives. They learn that people everywhere share the same feelings and anxieties that they experience. Reading builds their self-confidence and good judgment skills.

There is a wealth of academic research to document the benefits of reading aloud, but reading time is not about academics. It’s about fun.

Choose books that interest the child, read with enthusiasm, talk about the pictures, make the sounds the animals make, ask your child about the story, laugh and then start again. Remember that parents are the best teachers.

Share books and stories that make you and your child happy.

Make reading aloud a habit when your baby is small.

Incorporate it into your daily routine and it might become your favorite part of the day!

For tips on reading aloud, information about Read Aloud 15 MINUTES, and for lots and lots of books to share, please visit us at Braswell Memorial Library.

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