Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Words to Live By
 Reading to Kids

April 2003 Issue

Do You Hear
What I Hear?

A New Year Coming

Words to Live By

Rub a Dub Dub
Safe in the Tub

Waste Not Want Not

Mail Bag

Gerber Life
Family Times Archive

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All right. Here’s a nostalgic test for you. If you or your parents grew up with “Conjunction Junction” and remember the ads for “RIF—Reading is Fundamental,” chances are that you have your own preschoolers who are about ready to embark on the wonderful experience of learning to read. Reading opens doors to the imagination and serves as the conduit through which the majority of a child’s learned knowledge flows. An early interest in and love for books and reading lays a vital foundation for your child’s educational future and increases the likelihood that he/she will advance at a normal or even accelerated pace through the educational system.

Started in 1966, “Reading is Fundamental” is the oldest and largest children’s literacy program in the United States. According to RIF, most children learn to read by the age of seven. Developing an interest in reading and teaching a preschooler to read is a family activity, not just a mom or dad responsibility, and it is never too early to start the process. Some points that RIF recommends to introduce babies and toddlers to books include:

Read aloud to your baby. Start out reading for a few minutes at a time and increase the time as your child’s interest and attention span warrant.

Point to things in picture books and name them. When your child learns to talk, ask them to “point and say…”

Establish at least one regularly scheduled time each day for reading with your child (for both babies and toddlers).

Take toddlers to your local bookstore or library for “story hour.”

Use rhyming to develop your child’s ear for language. Recitation of nursery rhymes and sing-along songs help develop that skill.

Good strategies for introducing reading to babies include:

Select durable cloth, vinyl, and board books.

Read books with familiar objects to name.

Invite your child to join in while you are reading by pausing and allowing them to fill in a rhyming word or repeated line.

Move your finger under the words as you read them aloud. This helps preschoolers connect printed words to spoken words.

Begin teaching the letters of the alphabet, starting with those in your child’s name.

Preschooler’s minds are open to learning so much, and it is our responsibility as adults to make sure they have the best start possible. What better way to bond with your child than sharing an imaginative story at the end of a long day?

For other thoughts and guidance on improving your child’s reading interest and ability, consult with your child’s teachers and local librarians or visit the Reading is Fundamental website at The site includes guides for various age groups and also includes milestones and checklists to ensure that your child is progressing at the recommended pace.

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