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Thoughts on the importance of reading aloud with your kids and tips to get to them to read

Why it’s important to read aloud with your kids, and how to make it count 

One of the most important things parents can do, beyond keeping kids healthy and safe, is to read with them. That means starting when they are newborns and not even able to talk, and continuing well beyond the years that they can read by themselves. Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world.

We spoke with Liza Baker, the executive editorial director at Scholastic, which just released its Kids & Family Reading Report. 

“It’s so important to start reading from Day One,” she says. “The sound of your voice, the lyrical quality of the younger [books] are poetic … It’s magical, even at 8 weeks old they focus momentarily, they’re closer to your heart.” As they begin to grow, families should make sure books are available everywhere in the home, like it’s your “daily bread.” (Amen.) But it shouldn’t end when kids begin to read on their own. “As they become independent readers, we tend to let them go, but even kids in older demographics love nothing more than that time with their parents,” Baker says. “We’re blown away that kids time and again said the most special time they recall spending with a parent is reading together.”

Summer reading: Tips from parents, who happen to know a few things about books

Mary Ellen Icaza, Montgomery County Public Library’s public services administrator, Community Engagement, Programming and Learning, was a book worm her entire life. But now that she’s a mother to a 10-year-old son and a daughter who’s 6, “my whole philosophy on reading has changed,” she says. “As a kid, I was the one in the library signing up for summer reading. There was nothing better for me than to have a huge stack of books.”

And then her son came along. “He just didn’t have that love. He’s a very active kid who likes to be busy and always doing something,” she says.

Knowing her son is obsessed with baseball, Icaza helped him discover the Ballpark Mystery Series. “It clicked for him and he read the whole series,” she says. In fact, one summer, they went on vacation and he got a minor league baseball directory at a ballpark. He read about each team in the country. “It sounds very boring, but for him, he was learning about the mascots, and I liked it because he was learning about what cities were in different states.”

The other thing that has worked to get him reading? Having a little sister. She would bring a different book home from school most days this year. “Often, we’ll have him read the book to her,” Icaza says. “We can hear him reading to her and it’s so neat to see that interaction.”

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