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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 7:20 am | Fair 44º


Bill Cirone: Nurture Healthy Reading Habits in Children

Santa Barbara County's schools superintendent offers ways to instill a lifelong love of books.

There is no more important gift an adult can give a young person than the love of reading. Young people who love to read have the world at their fingertips. Reading assignments become fun. Learning is something to look forward to.

Bill Cirone

Some children take to books naturally, like fish to water. Others need a little nudging. Here are some ways to help.

First of all, it’s never too early to start. Some parents begin reading with their children the day they bring them home from the hospital. Even infants enjoy hearing the rhythms of language.

It’s a good idea to create a nighttime read-aloud ritual. Even the most energetic of young people usually have wound down by evening. It’s a great time to read together and to cuddle. If possible, set aside 20 minutes or so a day for reading out loud with children. Stop reading or change the selection if a child seems bored or fidgety.

Make reading out loud more fun by using different voices for different characters in a book or story. Encourage children to take part in the fun by making animal noises or automobile sounds at the appropriate point in the story.

Don’t stop reading out loud when your children can read by themselves. At that point, you can take turns being the narrator.

Make a special spot in your home for your children’s books. Be sure to get each child a personal library card and allow each to select books from libraries and bookstores. Fill your home with all kinds of reading material. Be sure children see books, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc. Remember to be a good role model by letting your children see you reading a lot as well.

Ask librarians, teachers, friends and day care providers for reading suggestions. There also are several excellent books that list good sources of material, such as The New Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

Every family is different and every child is different. The important point to remember is that you should do whatever seems appropriate to help your child learn that reading is fun. That is the single most important gift you can provide in terms of long-term success in school.

Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools.

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