Saturday, October 8, 2011

Utah Kids Ready to Read

Reading is essential to school success and learning to read begins long before the first day of class. From the time they are infants children learn language and other important skills that help them learn to read. Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to decode the letters on the written page and become good readers.

ALSC (Association of Library Services for Children) and PLA(Public Library Association) have teamed up to help develop the best practices in getting your child ready to learn to read. Visit their web site at  They are not promoting teaching reading before children enter Kindergarten or putting pressure on pre-schoolers to read but they want parents to give children the tools that they will need to be ready to learn. Children who enter Kindergarten with pre-reading skills have a giant advantage. Did you know that if a child is not reading at grade level by the time they reach 3rd grade they may never catch up with their peers?

There are five simple activities that you can do to help them develop their early literacy skills. Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing and Playing.

Talking: Narrate your day, talk about what you are doing. Ask your child questions and listen to their responses, repeat what they say and add to their vocabulary by using new words.

Singing: Develops listening, rhyming skills, syllable emphasis and slows down language. Sing a new song or make up a song about what you are doing.

Reading: The single most important thing that you can do. Children that are read to 20 minutes a day will spend 1000 hours being read to by the time they reach age 6. They will have an average vocabulary of 20,000 words, those who are not read to on a regular basis have an average vocabulary of 3000 words.

Writing: Writing helps children understand that text is a code and that they must learn the letter names and sounds to decode the text. Any activity that develops fine motor skills is a pre-writing skill. Cutting with scissors, coloring, playing with Lego's all help develop the fine muscles needed to hold and use a pencil to write.

Playing: Children learn narrative skill as they play. Have you ever listened to them as the play "house" with another child? They talk about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. This is symbolic thinking. Puzzles, games and other toys help kids learn problem solving, pattern recognition and cause and effect. Playing helps kids learn to think, imagine and express their thoughts.

Do you want your kids to be smarter? Follow the five simple steps listed here and they will be.
Michele, Children's Librarian

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