By Michelle Smith Howard, President and CEO, Kids’ First Years
Alexandria, VA – Did you know that a lifetime love of reading starts in the early years? In fact, the first step on the path to literacy begins with a book in your hand and a child on your lap.
Reading to children has many benefits: It helps them understand how the world works and sets the stage for success in school, it helps them settle down after a busy day, and it helps build a strong foundation for school readiness and language development in the formative years from birth to age five.
According to The Literacy Project (literacyproj.org), children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than three times a week.
The local libraries in Alexandria are excellent resources for introducing your child to the wonderful world of books. All branches of the Alexandria Library system offer a SummerQuest reading program with the theme “All Together Now” for Summer 2023. You can download the brochure in English or Spanish to check program dates/times/locations at alexlibraryva.org/summerquest. Some of the summer sessions for young children include:
· Baby Story Time (Duncan Library) on Mondays at 11 am for ages 0-11 months
· Baby and Toddler Time (Barrett Library) on Tuesdays at 11 am for ages 0-23 months
· 1s and 2s Time (Bentley Library) on Wednesdays at 11:30 am for ages 1-2
· Pajama Story Time (Duncan Library) on Wednesdays at 7 pm for ages 0-5
· Playtime! (Bentley Library) on Tuesdays at 10:30 am for ages 0-5
· Preschool Story Time and Craft (Duncan Library) on Tuesdays at 4 pm for ages 3-5
· Stories and Songs (Duncan Library) on Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am for ages 0-5
· Story Time in the Reading Garden (Bentley Library) on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 am for ages 0-5
· Toddler Rock ‘n’ Read (Duncan Library) on Thursdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am for ages 0-5
· Tummy Time (Bentley Library) on Wednesdays at 10:15 am for ages 0-12 months
The Basics offers fun activities to support literacy
Kids’ First Years embraces The Basics, simple yet powerful principles to help children thrive in the early years. One of the principles is to Read and Discuss Stories because it’s never too early to begin reading to your child. Below are activities tied to this principle, which helps build your child’s knowledge, reasoning, and literacy skills. Learn more about The Basics at kidsfirstyears.org/basics.
· As you read aloud, ask simple questions to engage your child in the story, such as “What sound does the cow make?”
· If your child loses interest and gets up to do something while you are reading, keep going for a while longer. Show how interested you are in the story by the tone of your voice. This helps your child know that reading is something that you enjoy doing together.
· Make a cozy corner for reading. It could be at the end of a sofa or in the corner of a bedroom. Involve your child in choosing the spot and gathering pillows and books for it.
· When reading with your child, point to the pictures as you talk about them. For example, say, “Where is the mouse?” followed by, “There’s the mouse!” Pointing and talking about the pictures is more important than reading every word.
· Let them hold the book and turn the pages. Be a good listener if your child talks about it or asks questions.
Books Young Children May Enjoy
Ask your local librarian for a list of age-appropriate books you can read aloud to your little one. Below is a list of childhood classics to get you started. Warning: Be prepared to read them over and over (and over!) because kids adore these stories.
· Goodnight Moon
· Pat the Bunny
· If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
· The Snowy Day
· The Poky Little Puppy
· The Runaway Bunny
· Hop on Pop
· Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
· The Very Hungry Caterpillar
· The Little Engine That Could
· Make Way for Ducklings
To connect with Kids’ First Years or its partners, visit kidsfirstyears.org.