Growing young readers…growing relationships

In light of World Book Day celebrated in South African schools and libraries on the 23rd of April this year, I felt inspired to share some of my fondest, most personal memories of reading as a child and in so doing, emphasize just how important it is for parents to read with their children from an early age. Growing up, I have many fond memories of nights spent snuggled up under the covers, nestled safely under the loving arm of my dad as we embarked on new and exciting adventures before bed time…adventures that began with the turning of a page…

Looking back on those precious nights, I am so blessed and thankful that I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who took an interest in my education and cared enough to give up their precious time to create such special memories with me. For it is in those moments of shared reading and quality time that the seeds of learning and imagination were planted, and our relationship was nurtured. Today I am a proud “Daddy’s girl” and wouldn’t have it any other way. Having reflected on this though, I know that for many children growing up in South Africa, and around the world, this is not a possibility. Having taught English for my first few years of teaching, I saw many children pass through my doors and with them they carried their “back pack” of struggles…from child headed households and single families to absent parenting and “substituted parenting” in the more wealthier families. It became very clear to me that for many of them, that treasured experience of reading with their parents or loved ones was not something we could relate to. I would meet with parents and was frequently asked what they could do to get their child to read more? While this is a worthwhile question to ask, it is no  use asking if there is no real intent to put into practice the advice given. Cultivating a love for reading really does start at home.

Below is a link to a very insightful read that provides a guideline of 20 smart ways to help raise a young reader.

20 Smart Ways to Raise a Reader

The value of reading with your child cannot be emphasized enough. However, I know that it can be a somewhat overwhelming task given the amount of pressure parents find themselves under. I do not have children myself and so can say that I honestly don’t know how hard it is for parents to “schedule” time for their children but as a teacher, I am able to say that the difference between a child who stems from a family background of quality time and shared reading and that of a child who stems from a background desolate of quality time and any sort of reading culture is painstakingly obvious. Reading with my little niece is one of my absolute favourite things to do. Seeing the joy in her face as we approach the bookshelf to choose a book and then settle down together is truly priceless. Already, at the tender age of 17 months that love for reading has been instilled and the rapid progress in her development can’t be denied. Reading together, apart from all the developmental benefits, opens the door to long lasting memories and strengthened relationships. And in a world where adults and children are seemingly miles apart and struggling to connect, the act of reading together is a worthwhile investment.

The journey of a lifetime TOGETHER starts with the mere turning of a page…

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