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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : regional July 9, 2014

3/27/2013 1:21:00 PM
Raising a Reader starts in the crib
Daily reading with infants, toddlers promotes school success
Moraine Windham reads to her daughter Elsa at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood.
Moraine Windham reads to her daughter Elsa at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood.
By Claire Louge
Parent Awareness and Community Outreach Coordinator Yavapai Regional Partnership Council

When it comes to getting kids ready for school, reading is key. Studies have shown that reading aloud to children during their critical early years expands their vocabulary and knowledge, raises IQ, and makes them more successful students when they enter school. In fact, general knowledge and vocabulary at ages 3 and 4 correspond with reading comprehension levels at ages 9 and 10.

In Yavapai County, the First Things First Regional Partnership Council is funding Raising a Reader, a free program implemented by Yavapai College that partners with early learning programs such as child care centers and preschools. Through Raising a Reader, children bring home bags filled with books each week to take home and read with their family, and exchange the books for new ones the following week. The new Bright Bears Preschool of Cottonwood Oak Creek School District is set to participate in the program later this year.

Just 15-30 minutes each day can make a big difference in a young child's learning. For infants, reading and others interactions with adults help their brain learn the sounds needed to develop language. As they grow, reading helps babies understand that objects have names, and that words represent those names.

As children get older, reading helps them to learn letters, sounds, increased vocabulary, and higher concepts such as grammar and critical thinking. That's quite a lot of learning for just 30 minutes a day!

First Things First has created a list of tips to support and encourage families to read with young kids:

• Read together every day.

• Let kids set the pace. They are still fascinated by the words and pictures on a page long after adults lose interest.

• The story is important, but your conversation, reactions and questions about what's going on in the book help kids get the most out of the tale.

• For infants, focus on books with bright pictures of everyday objects and other babies.

• For kids 1-2 years old, focus on books with simple rhymes and predictable text that are about everyday activities.

• As children get older, focus on books about specific topics that interest them.

• And, finally, reading with children is not the only way that children learn basic literacy skills. Talking, singing, and playing with kids help them build critical skills that will support their early literacy.

By helping children build their vocabulary and develop an early love of reading, parents and caregivers are giving kids the tools they need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond!

For more information about First Things First, please visit ReadyAZKids.com.

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