Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Helping Your Child Become a Better Reader

Category: Positive Parenting


    In recent weeks we have talked about the detrimental effect that over-viewing of TV and videos has on our children.  Numerous studies have shown it to cause a decrease in reading ability, and communication skills  and an increase in violent behavior in children.  Certainly a better alternative is to encourage more reading and less TV for our children.  The following suggestions were shared by Ann K. Wilson.   First, she suggests reading to and with your child.  This can be done even after they are teenagers.  Discuss passages read with them.  One of my happiest memories has been reading the book called THE POWER OF ONE with my son Scott about a year ago.  We later watched the movie based on the book.

      Sharing that wonderful book took us over 6 months.  It opened up discussions on South Africa, racism, setting goals, working hard and believing in oneself.  All those important talks stemmed from one shared book.  I agree strongly with Ms. Wilson that reading to and with your child is critical and I recommend you start as early as possible. 

      The second recommendation by Ms. Wilson is to make books available to your children about places that you may be visiting.  If you are going to Florida for a vacation, go to the library and get a book on the coast of Florida and get excited looking at pictures discussing the type fish found in the waters there, the industry and jobs prevalent there, and all the recreational opportunities there.  Read with your kids on anything about the history, geography and culture of places you will be visiting.  You can also write to the Chamber of Commerce of nearly any place and get loads of good material.  Third, find books about movies since most kids are tuned into movies already.  This is an easy way of motivating them to get started.  Fourth, encourage non-fiction as well as fiction reading.  This will open up a whole world of learning to your children.  Fifth, let your children be responsible for some of the summer budget.  They will learn why it is important to read well in order to figure out the best deals on buying food, finding lodging for a night, or balancing a checkbook. 

      Ms. Wilson's sixth recommendation is to keep a family journal while on vacation.  Let each family member write their memories of the day.  Add in pictures or video tapes as you like.  Seventh, turn off the television for at least one day a week and declare a family fun night.  This might involve sharing music, games, crafts, sports or even writing together as a family.  As a parent, you must take the lead in this area. Eighth, start a dialogue journal in a special notebook in your home.   Try writing an encouraging, praising letter to one of your children and leave it under their pillow.  This might encourage them to put their words on paper and write back to you or one of their siblings. Ninth, collect family stories and put them together in a notebook or on a family computer program.  And finally, tenth, don't nag your children to read but make it a pleasant experience and allow them to read when and where they want, whether it is in the bathroom, in the backyard or even under the sheets with a flashlight. Rather than judging what they choose to read, try to steer them toward well known writers such as modern day bestsellers as well as the classics.  All in all, I think Ms. Wilson's 10 suggestions are excellent and I would summarize them by saying, get involved in your child's reading at an early age and stay involved throughout their childhood. It may be the best gift you can give them.