Put on a party hat and pull out Green Eggs and Ham. The National Education Association (NEA) kicked off its 2017 Read Across America Campaign, yesterday on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday! But the party continues all month long.
According to NEA “Now in its 20th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.” While the NEA campaign lasts all year, March--the month that ushers in spring--is widely regarded as National Reading Month, an excellent time to plant seeds for a lifetime love of reading.
Former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who loved literature and later in her life spent nearly 20 years as a book editor, once said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
The benefits of reading—and reading to kids—are definitely many. Two years ago on March 2, the Huffington Post published a blog post by Dr. Gail Gross, suggesting that “Studies show that if a parent is actively involved in a child’s reading progress, the child has a greater opportunity to succeed.”
On a similar note, Early Moments, an organization promoting literacy and love of reading, posted “10 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids.” Among them are: a stronger relationship with you, academic excellence, mastery of language, and enhanced concentration and discipline. They also note that “’Pretend reading’—when a toddler pages through a book with squeals and jabbers of delight—is a very important pre-literacy activity.”
Designed specifically for toddlers, Little Ones Colors, Little Ones Opposites, Little Ones Think, and Little Ones Numbers, each using sticker play to help teach basic skills, also help introduce the idea that an entire world exists in the pages between a front and back cover.
Raise Smart Kid, which bills itself as “A parent's guide on how to raise a smart, bright and intelligent child - from baby, toddler, preschooler and school kid to teen” posted to its website that reading to a child is one of the most effective ways to build the “‘language’ neural connections in his growing brain as well as the strong base for his cognitive development.”
The Start to Read! Complete Early Reading Program 18-Book Set includes 15 beginning readers (5 in each of 3 levels), 3 Read-Along and Song CDs with all 15 narrated stories and 30 original songs, 3 comprehension workbooks to reinforce skills, and 3 parent guides with additional suggestions.
Older kids and tweens will enjoy graphic novel versions of classic tales such as Peter Pan, Hansel & Gretel, and Beauty & The Beast, can help get older kids and tweens.
Unbelievably, some reports suggest that 1 in 4 children in America today grow up without learning how to read, and Sam-I-am would be oh-so-sad to hear it. Let March be the month to spring into action by sharing with kids the magic of books.