Literacy – the ability to read and write – is an invaluable skill that affects countless aspects of our day-to-day lives. Strong literacy skills improve informed decision-making, participation in community and overall confidence. We need to learn the ability to read and THEN learn the ability to learn from reading to make a difference in our lives, the lives of our children and the life of our community.
Improve your child’s literacy
Reading is one of the most important activities you can do with your child! Reading books aloud enhances children’s vocabularies and increases their knowledge of the world and everyday life. Developing your child’s literacy plays a large part in their success in school and later on in life.
More than 1 in 3 children starting kindergarten lack the basic literacy skills needed, and 63% of 4th graders read below their grade level.
Poor literacy skills not only affect a child’s grades; it may affect their confidence and attitude toward learning in the future. Cultivating a love of reading early on will follow your child throughout his or her education and open new doors.
If your child displays disinterest in reading, here are some tips to foster strong reading habits.
- Read aloud to your child. Giving your time and attention to reading to your child can create a positive association with reading.
- Create a cozy reading corner. With your child’s help, create a fun environment filled with an assortment of books, comfy pillows or chairs, and decorations.
- Encourage reading at home and on-the-go. Practice reading with your child wherever you go: billboards in the car, menus in restaurants, signs in grocery stores, etc.
- Be an example. Let your children see you enjoy reading a variety of materials and encourage them to read their own books with you.
- Set aside time to read with your child every day. It can be difficult to find time to read with your child, but if you carve out a specific time and dedicate it to reading, your child will learn the importance of making reading a priority.
- Show interest and praise your child for reading. Your positive feedback plays a large role in your child’s desire to become a good reader.
- Connect reading with singing. Singing also fosters the ability to use words in powerful ways. If you can sing, you are using words and reading in creative ways.
- Join your local library. Let your child explore and choose books that interest them.
It is helpful to use examples to reinforce the importance of reading. Much like we emphasize that milk helps build strong bones, we need to remind our children that READING BUILDS STRONG BRAINS.
Improve your own skills
Illiteracy has a direct impact on health. It interferes with being able to read medication instructions, understand forms and pamphlets at the doctor’s office, or make decisions about providers and treatments.
The simplest way to improve and maintain literacy is to read as often as you can and to expose yourself to an array of reading materials.
Here are some tips to incorporate reading into your daily routine:
Trade electronics for a good book. Turn off the things that distract you – like the television, your laptop or phone – and settle in with a good book to promote relaxation.
Find a topic that interests you. There is a world of fascinating reading material. From the newest best-selling novel to autobiographies or design and lifestyle books, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Start a book club. Surround yourself with friends or coworkers who motivate you to read new books and hold each other accountable.
Little Free Libraries
Availability of a variety of reading materials greatly affects the ability to develop and grow literacy skills. Prisma Health strives to promote wellness in all areas of patients’ lives and is placing Little Free Libraries at each of Prisma Health–Upstate’s eight medical campuses.
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” program for everyone – children to adults. Patients, guests and team members are invited to take a book and bring a book to share. With over 80,000 registered Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in 91 countries, we are delighted to bring this program to our campuses.
Through these libraries, Prisma Health hopes to encourage literacy as a part of overall health, increase access to books for our community, and foster lifelong readers of all ages and backgrounds.
Blog post author Dr. Robert Saul is a pediatrician at Prisma Health’s Ferlauto Center for Complex Pediatric Care and has written three books, including one children’s book.
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