Today is the International Day of the Girl and @10x10act, moms, NGOs & activists are raising their voices for girls with a Tweet-a-thon! Along with my partner Margarita (@DownshiftingPRO), we’re going to be talking about young girls’ book clubs and the importance of reading from 2-3 pm Eastern.
The Importance of Reading
The topic of education for girls and in particular, the value of reading led me back to when I was a classroom teacher. Based on my personal experience in the classroom, I would have to say that reading was the single most important indicator of a student’s success in school and I think that in this age of information, it only becomes more important. Certainly when a child is in Grade One, there are many types of learning and school activities going on – they still learn a great deal by doing, by playing, by engaging in activities but by the time they are in Grade Eight, the ability to read is essential. Although teachers try to make learning as active an experience as possible in the later years and to still give hands on activities, the reality is that textbooks have become a key ingredient in the classroom by then.
But, moreso even than all of that, reading opens up the world to the reader. A person’s life experiences are not limited to simply what is happening in their immediate environment – instead, they can take part through the written word and their own imaginations in the life experiences of others around the world…or even in imaginary experiences through fantasy and science fiction. Reading gives a person independence. It allows the reader to fill out job applications, to shop without assistance, to enter into a contract, and quite simply, to know more about what’s out there in the world and the options that they have open to themselves.
Reading helps to improve attention spans and concentration. It improves general mental development and stimulates the eye muscles. Readers score higher on IQ tests, exhibit more creativity, and have a higher success rate in school. It is clear that reading is an essential life skill and yet, there are millions of girls around the world being denied an education, including the ability to learn to read.
More Benefits of Reading to Your Children http://www.littleonesreadingresource.com/childrens-stories.html
How to Encourage Reading
The first, most important way of encouraging reading in children is to read to them from the time they are babies. It’s a time to snuggle, a time to giggle and have fun, and a time to model reading for your children so that they begin to develop early reading skills for themselves.
Have books easily accessible to your children. Yes, young ones often tear and scribble in and otherwise damage books but they really need to have books down at their level where they can reach them at any time they want. Invest in some board books which will stand up to more abuse than other types when they are too young to understand how to handle books carefully. Go to your local thrift shop or scour yard sales for them – you can often find them starting at only 10 cents a piece!
Children are more likely to value reading if they see you as a parent (or other important person in their life) reading.
Give books as gifts and encourage others to give them as well. Children will see them as valued items.
Read with them often – daily if possible and make it a priority. Remember, that even when your children are old enough to read for themselves, they may still enjoy having you read to them. My daughter is 24 and we still read to each other from time to time just for the sheer joy of it.
Make reading fun. Use silly voices and sound effects, act out some of the scenes, make crafts or snacks to go along with the books (Green Eggs and Ham anyone?).
Take your kids to the library regularly. Check out library story times! Look through and pick out books together. Find out your child’s interests by letting them browse for a while and pick out what appeals to them.
Give kids money specifically earmarked for books. Take them to a bookstore and let them pick out a new book to take home! Or get your child a subscription to a magazine about a topic of interest.
Take your kids to see movies or get videos related to books you’ve read together. Or research more about a topic you’re reading about on the internet. In fact, for reluctant readers, being able to read on some electronic device from time to time can be great encouragement. You can even find some computer games that encourage reading skills.
Form a children’s book club – more about this in Margarita’s postand during our Tweetathon time today!
Where to Find Good Books for Your Kids
18 Highly Recommended Books for Girls http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/promos/greatbooks/booklist.html
Staff Picks for Kids – book lists sorted by subject http://mcpl.info/childrens/staff-picks
International Reading Association recommended book lists http://www.reading.org/Resources/Booklists.aspx
Reading list from American Library Association via Oprah http://www.oprah.com/packages/kid-reading-list.html
Caldecott, Newbery, and other award winning books http://childrensbooks.about.com/cs/majorbookawards/a/alanotable.htm
Canadian Children’s Book Centre http://www.bookcentre.ca/award
Also, ask other parents, teachers, or librarians for recommendations based on your child’s interests.
“Reading is the single most important factor in America today . . . The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the smarter you grow. The smarter you are, the longer you stay in school and the more diplomas you earn. The more diplomas you have, the more days you are employed. The more diplomas you have, the more your children will achieve in school. And the more diplomas you have, the longer you will live.”
Join us today at 2 pm today as we talk about book clubs for girls. We’ll discuss books and strategies to help you develop your very own book club to get those girls reading!
Topic: Girl’s Book Club
Time: 2 pm – 3 pm EST
Hashtag: #IDG2012 #GirlsBookClub