I know, I know, this sounds like the same old theme I bring up from time-to-time. “TV is bad and books are good.” But, I thought this time around, I’d share with you all some sobering data about the importance of reading. So if you aren’t already reading to your young child on a daily basis, or your 6-year old pretty much runs to play his video games right after school, ponder this:
- 10%-15% of children who have reading difficulties, eventually drop out of high school.
- Poor readers have a difficult time making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. This includes every subject matter out there: science, history, math, etc. And ultimately, school failure may follow.
- Self esteem is often an issue with poor readers, as they grow ashamed when they see classmates not having difficulty with reading.
- Nearly half of youths with a history of substance abuse have reading problems.
- Surveys have found about half of adolescents and young adults with criminal records have reading difficulties.
So in each and every well-child care visit (AKA physical) I encounter, I always find the time to stress the importance of reading; whether it be to a parent encouraging her to read to her 9-month old baby boy, or encouraging a middle school student to find a few minutes each day to read for pleasure. I remind both parents and patients alike of the importance and joy of reading while trying to get households to cut down on total daily “screen time” (which includes TV, video games, and computer time.)
And for those of you who may need a few tips to get things moving, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Keep the process of reading fun and exciting. Don’t let reading become a chore. Allow your child to pick her favorite book out to read and when you read to your child, feel free to be creative and use different voices and noises. Get your child excited about the story without trying to drill them about it.
- Have a designated time for reading each day. Now this can be a few times a day, but in my household over the last 10 years, my wife and I have alternated nights reading to our children. These days, my 10-year old reads to herself while I read to my 4-year old, but what I love is my children will not go to sleep without a book first.
- Take time to look at the pictures and ask your child what she sees. Have your child join in if she remembers some of the lines from the previous times the book was read.
- When your child begins to read, have him read out loud and remember to give lots of praise along the way.
- Find your own book and start reading. The impression of this on your own child cannot be overstated and may be all that is needed to have your child become an avid reader.
“TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book.” – Author Unknown
- Dr. Jeremy