Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Book and Library Month (1 of 3) : Role of Parents

In the Philippines, November is book and library month. Peachy Limpin has blogged about the program for this year's 71st National Book Week celebration. The theme for this year, Developing the Culture of Reading Through Books and Libraries, is one that is very close to my heart. It is in fact, what I have always advocated and always will.

No matter how advanced we push through with technology, books and printed materials will stay. There is permanence to the existence of books and printed materials. I have always believed that for children to grow up as readers, one must start with the spoken word and firm up the skill with the printed word. This can further be enhanced when adults - parents, teachers, care givers, and those who look after them, develop a culture of reading or an environment that promotes reading.

Gone are the days when reading is forced to children. The idea that children must develop the skills to read is already part and parcel of good parenting. It is already an additional responsibility for parents of today to teach and model the reading habit to their kids. Times may be hard these days and buying books may be too luxurious. But if parents see it as an investment, it is worth the money.

There are also other ways to cultivate a reading culture at home. The home is actually the first school of the learning child. Before I go into the techniques and tips, parents must first realize that reading is necessary. Second, they must look into their definition of reading.

Reading is comprehension. It is the ability to understand symbols, signs, sounds and non-verbal communication. It is a global skill divided into three major parts namely; Word Recognition, Comprehension and Study Skills. It is not just a skill, but skills that are interconnected. The growing child may start with learning the alphabet, sounds and letters, but he is already capable of understanding a story read aloud or told orally. The learner may still be in the process of mastering skills to comprehend different text structures but at the same time, he may be able to apply them as tools to acquire content from the subjects in school. An adult may appreciate a variety of literary genre likewise be a strategic thinker and a critical user of different information sources and technology.

Reading has indeed, so many benefits. Starting them young is the key. I hope that these tips may help you parent a reader for life.

1. Model the reading habit.

2. Read aloud. Read everything, from telephone bills, street signs, restaurant menu, billboards, price tags, CD labels, Internet sites, SMS messages, etc.

3. Buy books. Give them as gifts. If budget is tight, borrow from the library. Have a variety of books from non-fiction to fiction, poetry and prose.

4. Involve your child in chores that follow a process; activity that requires a set of instructions to do; a creative endeavor that allows them imagine and make their own products. Examples are cooking, baking, art activities, gardening, taking care of a pet, learning a musical instrument, etc.

5. Be conscious of your child's needs and interests. This will help you choose materials for him to read and toys to play with.

6. Guide your child in using media and technology. Be there when they watch the TV, select CD's and videos. There are ways to read and understand them. How? Will post after this 3-part entry.

7. Let him interact with others. Acquiring new words and speech patterns help in vocabulary building and schema development.

8. Tell stories! Lots and lots!

9. Bring your child to bookstores and museums, to farms and factories, to parks and playgrounds. Bring him anywhere not just to malls.

10. Reach out to other parents and be friendly with you kid's teachers. They are partners in making your child, a life long reader.

This all for now. Next post will be about school and libraries, teachers and librarians.

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