Take kids on a trip of a lifetime:  open a book

Just how important is reading in children’s lives—and everyone’s? Take it from notable achievers, ranging from a history-changing abolitionist to Pulitzer-winning columnist, it’s really important.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Richard Steele
“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.” – Mary Schmich
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

As National Reading Month continues, it’s a wonderful time to give kids a taste of “portable magic” and a “discount ticket to everywhere.” Reading constructs imaginary worlds, and creates adventures. Unfortunately, too many kids are missing out. The Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) program, begun nearly 50 years ago, continues to encourage and nurture early reading. They also acknowledge “myriad reasons children don’t like to read,” and have compiled articles explaining why—and what can be done about it. In “Children Who Can Read But Don’t,” it suggests a few of the basic reasons some kids steer away from reading is that they think it’s boring (or on a related note, “not fun”) or that they lack the time, they find it too hard, or believe it’s not important. Reading with kids and also finding reading materials that mesh with their interests and make them enthusiastic can help counter some resistance.

Under a Tips & Resources item titled “Choosing Good Books,” the RIF site notes “Selecting something to read can be emotional. All of us have read books that leave us breathless as we tell a friend the plot. For kids, that feeling is escalated, because selecting the right book is a declaration of independence as a reader and a commitment to a new journey.”

In addition, under “Getting the Most from Picture Books,” it says, “Pictures enable children to explore the world within their own imagination and make connections to characters and events they see depicted in books. When you help children connect with characters and events, you make the book more real to them.” RIF adds, “Books can help young children identify colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, as well as names of people, places, animals, and everyday objects.”

Need more tips for getting kids started? See “37 Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Reading,” gathered from the Edutopia Community, many of them educators. For example, Moya Dixon writes, “It is important to have a wide variety of reading materials in the classroom or at home—for example, comics, magazines, and newspapers…” She also urges, “Read to children. Ask questions as you read…Read books that inspire, motivate, and books that children love.”

To give kids a super start in reading, the 3-level Start to Read! Early Reading Program 18-Book Set offers Two Great Ways to Learn® and a little something for virtually any beginning reader. Each level in the series includes a Read-Along & Songs CD, and on each CD, every story within that level has a track dedicated to uninterrupted reading and another track featuring word-for-word narration and turn-the-page signals to help your child follow along in each book. The three comprehension books paired with each reading level provide extra practice of newly learned skills and information and will test your child’s understanding of the stories. In total, each CD has 15 stories and 30 original songs for hours of joyful learning and entertainment!

The Start to Read! set is one creative way to give little ones a great taste of “portable magic.”