Share-A-Story: Encouraging the Bright and Shiny New Reader

Another day of Share-A-Story!  This time the topic has to do with expanding the definition “literacy.”  Both of my children (almost 3 and 3 months) are too young to be “reading” in the traditional sense.  My oldest is just learning the letters of the alphabet, and my youngest, well, he just discovered he has hands.

But I can see the foundations of literacy already established in my oldest.  Which brings us today’s prompt:

What unique / beyond the usual things do you have in your literacy tool belt to engage young readers?

I’m not sure that I do anything “unique” but there are some things that perhaps one might not recognize as a tool relating to engaging the youngest “readers” in the learning process.

  • We singFor some children (like mine), music is a way of learning.  It was, of course, the way she first learned her letters.  But it also encouraged creative thinking.  We now have our own verses for “The Wheels on The Bus.”  There’s no book in her hand, but she’s learning pacing (tempo), discovering the world around her (we like songs about farm animals, in particular), and expanding her vocabulary.  Recently, she’s even begun making connections between text we read and songs that she’s learned from hours of singing in the car and around the house.
  • We look.  And more than that, we talk.  ALL. DAY. LONG.  In fact, sometimes we talk more than I’d like.  Preschooler is at an age now where she has a comment or question about absolutely everything.  This process started long before she was verbal, when it was just the two of us in the house, and I would chatter away to her throughout the day.  This was partly to fill the silence, but it has paid off in her verbal skills and vocabulary.
  • We allow a little mess. Who knew that reading could be so… UNgentle of an activity?  Some of our books are what I would term “well-loved”.  They’re not deliberately mishandled, but it happens.  Our bookshelves are overflowing, and not always neat.  But I’ve come to be okay with that.
  • We take breaks.  Some days, the only reading that happens around here is the story I read at bedtime.  That’s reality.  Reading should be an enjoyable for young readers.  Forcing the issue may lead to a negative association with books, and once established,  that’s a difficult battle to win.
  • We share.  When Preschooler began “reading” on her own, I pulled out the Flip cam and recorded it for Daddy and the grandparents.  She was shy about reading the book to me, but was more than eager to perform for the camera, and quite excited to send the email off.

Will she REALLY be a “happy reader”?  I don’t know.  But I do feel confident that the foundation is there for us to grow upon.  And whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a librarian… that’s a good place to start.

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