It’s never too early, and it’s never too late. Whether you are the parent of an infant or a teen, one of the most effective things you can do to develop literacy skills is having a home that supports literacy. Home environments for reading and writing should be given equal consideration to classroom environments. As claimed by Rasinski and Fredericks, “A literate home environment doesn’t teach children how to read; rather, it provides children with opportunities to enjoy reading and discover the many ways it can be used to enrich the experiences in their lives.” You do not have to invest a lot of money and resources to create a literacy-rich home environment; you do, however, have to commit time and involvement.
This commitment not only has positive gains for your child but also for you as a parent. Reading together on a daily basis strengthens and nurtures the parent/child relationship. This quality time opens doors for conversation and gives way to meaningful communication. You can get a deeper understanding of what your child is doing in school, allowing you to gain insight into areas in which he/she may struggle or excel. By choosing books that interest your child, you spend time learning more about your child’s interests and hobbies. This investment makes the statement: “I value what is important to you.”
If you want your child to be a lifelong reader, you must think much like Toys R Us, McDonalds, and other companies that make your child jump up and down saying, “I want that!” You must advertise! Make your home print-rich: think picture books, chapter books, magazines, and newspapers. Get library cards for the family and use them often. Store reading materials at eye-level for children and in places where he/she can reach them. Sell stories and information about the world by talking enthusiastically about what you are reading and learning. Talk about your favorite books when you were his/her age. Consistently carve out time to read to your child, with your child, even on your own, giving your child a permanent reading role model.
Time spent reading is always time well spent. Children who read are better readers, better writers, better communicators, and better students. Young readers develop a broader vocabulary and language skills. Reading allows children to learn about the world around them. It stimulates imagination, increases attention span, and allows children to visit worlds outside of their own.
Carve out the time. Make the commitment. Cuddle up with your kiddo and a good book! Laugh together at silly characters, cheer for heroes, and wag your fingers at villains. Pat yourself on the back, knowing that you are helping your child develop life-long reading habits.