I have always loved reading, and seven years ago, I got the opportunity to join the publishing world back in my hometown: Mexico City. I was excited and, although I didn’t have much experience in the sector, I took on the challenge and learned the ropes of the magnificent publishing world.
Since then, I have been collaborating with educational publishers. In 2015, I participated in a project to distribute products from Highlights for Children in Latin America. At that point, I learned hard data about the power of reading on children’s development and how little changes have large effects.
The love of reading is one of the best skills we can teach our kids to set them up for success. Reading has proven to increase standardized test scores, be an indicator of future success, strengthen academic performance, and help improve physical, mental, and emotional health.
Sadly, the truth is that the children who start behind stay behind (“America’s Early Childhood,” Jumpstart, 2009). There is close to a 90 percent chance that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of fourth grade if that same child is a poor reader at the end of first grade (Boyer, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching). So, it’s extremely important that we introduce them to literacy early on and build a love of reading.
Here are three suggestions to change your children’s reading habits.
- Invest Quality Time in Reading Now
It is amazing how children that spend at least 15 minutes or more per day reading will make accelerated learning gains. Think about it: a television show lasts almost double that time and sometimes that is the time we spend in our daily commute. If we fill some of this time reading, we would be giving our children a great skill.
- Provide Access to Books
Children growing up in homes with at least 20 books get three years more schooling than children from homes with fewer books, independent of their parents or caregivers’ education, or occupation (Evans, M & Kelley, Jonathan & Sikora, Joanna & Treiman, Donald, 2010). This might be obvious but it doesn’t take much to change children’s lives. We live in a city with many public libraries that offer access to a wealth of children’s literature, and, if that is not an option, there are websites where you can acquire books for less than $3.
- Learn What Your Kids Love
It is not enough to have access to books, but to books that will bring joy and entertainment to children. Make sure to know your kids’ interests so you can point them to the appropriate literature. You can always check with your local library and they will happily help you choose a book that will spark your child’s interest.
In this constantly changing world, and with so much information at the tips of our fingers, developing a love for reading in your kids will help them achieve their potential. This is not a magic recipe but everything counts when it comes to giving your kids the best opportunities.
Finally, I want to close with a quote from Pam Allyn, advocate and author of several books on reading for educators and parents: “You become a lifelong reader when you are able to make choices about the books you read, and when you love the books you read. You tend to get better at something you love to do.”
About the Author | Daniel Rito, Research Coordinator
Passionate about community development, learning organizations, and digital learning, Daniel has developed, delivered, and assessed educational content, programs, and services over the last eight years. His broad international professional experience and educational background have brought him to lead the research team at Y Newcomer Connections.
For the last two years, Daniel has focused his research on newcomer employment programming and its impact on the Saint John community. As an educational freelance consultant, Daniel also collaborates with international educational publishers, including Grupo SM, Highlights for Children, to develop, manage, and leverage digital and print educational products and services in Latin America.