March is National Reading Month, since March 2 marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel was born on March 2, 1904).
I am an admitted not-so-big Dr. Seuss fan, but I am a lover of books and reading, and I love any reason to celebrate. I think that a month set aside to celebrate reading is pretty darn cool, so I’ll celebrate by sharing how we show our love of books at our house. . .
Here are some easy things we do–and anyone can do–to try to create a literate environment in our home:
- Literate Environment: We keep books everywhere. They are shoved into an old Brookstone car organizer between Maddy and Owen’s booster seats, they are in their side compartments; books are shoved into the pocket in front of Cora’s car seat. They are in the bottoms of our strollers, in diaper bags and purses, in our bathtub and outside on our porch.
- We read the paper every morning, and we subscribe to several magazines. It’s a treat when Your Big Backyard or High Five comes in the mail for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.
- We send letters to our friends and ask them to send replies back (there’s nothing like getting real mail for little ones!).
- Books of all genres overflow shelves in Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s rooms, and we head to the library a few times each month to borrow more.
- I’ve been known to search through tables of books at yard sales and look forward to Montgomery County General Hospital’s Book Booth every year to pick up dozens of books at discount prices–and the proceeds all go to a great cause.
- Our extended family picks up books at sales for the children all the time, and they are the ones who bought magazines subscriptions for them as gifts. (What a great gift?!)
- Maddy and Owen often trade books with friends, and we hold book swaps at occasional MOMS Club meetings.
- My husband and I read our own magazines, newspapers, or books in front of our kiddos and talk about what we’re reading with each other and with the children.
Studies show that “literacy in its emergent forms begins even earlier than prekindergarten” and that children’s ability to read is related to “skill development, not aptitude” (from Strickland, D.S., Morrow, L., Neuman, S.B., Roskos, K., Schickedanz, J.A., & Vukelich, C. (2004, September). The Role of Literacy in Early Childhood Education. The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 86–100.
The research cited in the above article also found that caregivers (parents, grandparents, daycare providers, preschool teachers, etc.) can support, enrich, and broaden the minds of emergent readers by:
- creating print-rich environments;
- having a “cozy” area where children can sit and read comfortably;
- having a literacy-related play areas (tablets, notebooks, paper and writing utensils available);
- encouraging interactive reading discussion times (Interactive Reading is so simple. Instead of simply reading to children, parents can “stop, ask questions, encourage discussion of ideas, raise new questions based on children’s comments, and generate a participatory role in reading”;
- creating mealtimes where children and adults engaged in meaningful conversation;
- having small group activities (or just times set aside now and then) where children work on basic reading, writing, working on math concepts, etc.
Feel free to comment and share your family’s ways of creating a literate environment! Let’s share the ways we’re trying to sneak in a little bit of learning every day. . .