Family LIfe

It's Closer Than They Think - Celebrate National Library Week
by Kim Green-Spangler

The key to every unanswered question, the search for facts, and the quest for knowledge and adventure, escapism at its very best can be found through reading. April 11-17 is National Library Week - the perfect time to introduce or reinforce the love of reading to family members and support local libraries and their staffs.

Why is reading so important to society as a whole? Because it offers a look into other worlds, often dramatically different from what can be found outside the front door - some real, some complete works of fiction, but always entertaining and/or informative on some level. Reading offers readers something valuable whether for pleasure or strictly for knowledge. How often have the movies been compared to the book they were adapted from - and the movie found to be lacking? Almost always! Why? Because books allow the mind to conjure up the images described within and details that are read stick with readers longer than those that are merely viewed.

Economically speaking, reading is free entertainment, through area libraries. As children grow up, parents can make visiting the library an enjoyable habit, even before they can read on their own. This can occur through weekly or monthly visits to check out books and videos on any and all topics that strike children's fancies. In fact, once children can write their own name and address they can get their own library cards. Being able to take out their own books can be such a thrill for a child, especially one just learning to read by themselves. Most neighborhood libraries even offer a weekly children's storytelling hour (typically 30-45 minutes) for children up to age five.

As time allows parents can do much to foster a love of reading. Just like adults, children enjoying curling up on a couch with a cup of warm tea or cocoa under a blanket with an entertaining book. They enjoy it even more if they are spending the time with mom or dad. It allows both parents and children the time to relax and unwind at the end of a long day, offers the opportunity to develop concentration skills and prepares the mind for the sleep process.

For preschoolers parents can implement storytelling and read engaging stories together. Parents should read aloud and point to the words they are reading so that children begin to match spoken words to their written counterparts. When possible read for as long as children will sit and listen, or implement a designated reading time daily.

For school-aged readers parents can continue reading aloud to them, but should also have them read to their parents and develop silent reading skills. If parents are familiar with the story, they can ask for a synopsis of each chapter as the child reads to him/herself, to ensure that understanding is clear.

Always encourage children to read, even if reading is not your own personal love. While it is always easier to model a behavior and allow children to see parents practice what they preach, help children develop the skills necessary by building their own personal library, designating a comfy reading area, and making sure both books and writing materials are accessible. Let children know that reading is one of the most enjoyable FREE things they can do and the ability to share written words with others is truly remarkable. All of the answers to the endless supply of questions that they can come up with are closer than they think - at their local library.

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