Early literacy key ingredient

By Sharon Kelly Youth and public services librarian Posted Jun. 2, 2015 at 5:13 PM Parenting – it’s said, “is the toughest job you will ever love!” From the moment children are born, the age old process of worrying begins. Are they eating enough? Are they getting enough sleep? Are they developing normally? Will they be ready for school? These are all valid and important concerns, some of them easier than others to overcome, but when it comes to early literacy and helping children get ready to read, we at the library are here to help. Last week, York Public Library hosted Shannon Schinagl, Maine State Library’s new Early Literacy Consultant, for an interactive presentation on early literacy. This workshop brought librarians, teachers and daycare providers together for an informative session about what all of us, including parents and caregivers, can do to help every child get ready to read. After all, the cornerstone to early literacy is what children learn about reading and writing before they actually learn to read and write. Schinagl broke this process down into six easy steps, with FUN as the main focus! Here is what she recommends. Step one: Print Motivation, which is best thought of as a child’s interest in and enjoyment of books. This can be as simple as reading to your child, or having them tell you about a book you have read together. Make books part of play time – keep books in the toy box! Step two: Print Awareness, is knowing how a book works and how to follow the words on the page. Let your child turn the pages themselves when...

Our Opinion: Establish summer reading routine with young children; it could be life-changing

As the school year ends, parents and guardians can do their kids a big favor by insisting they not shelve away books for the summer. Encourage the elementary-age child in your life to read daily. Better yet, snuggle up and read with him or her. The same goes for preschool children – whose future success in the classroom and in life, many people believe, could hinge on early and frequent exposure to reading. “Science tells us that 90 percent of a person’s brain is developed by age 5,” Bill Jones, president of the United Way of Wyoming Valley, recently told a Times Leader reporter. “Reading to and with young children is the most effective way to increase their intellectual capacity, and its results affect their entire lives.” Youngsters who fail to master appropriate reading skills by the third grade tend to encounter problems over the long haul and in many cases land in the social-services safety net or in prison, according to early childhood education advocates. Here’s the logic behind that theory: Lacking an ability to read on par with their peers, children are more likely to fall behind academically and become more prone to ultimately drop out of high school. No diploma, no job. No job, few good options. For those and other reasons, not the least of which is family bonding, be a positive influence in your child’s or grandchild’s formative years. Make weekly trips with him or her to one of Luzerne County’s public libraries. At the Osterhout Free Library’s main branch in Wilkes-Barre, for instance, you’ll find the Pollock Children’s Wing packed with age-appropriate titles. Plus, the library routinely...

Why I read aloud with my teens

A few weeks ago, my son and I finished reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63: A Novel.” The unusual part is the fact my son will be 18 years old in less than a month. I also read with his sister, who is 14. I didn’t plan to read aloud with my kids for this long. It just happened. As a former adjunct English professor who tutors students with dyslexia, I am an ardent lover of literature. Our home is packed with magazines and novels for all interests and ages. But these days, having a parent who loves and promotes books is not always enough. Reading competes with busy sports schedules, homework, and the ever-powerful screens that dominate our kids’ lives. My kids have trouble saying no to the incessant flow of Netflix entertainment that draws them away from books. While they love a good story, they are not bookworms the way I was as a kid. Consequently, I discovered early that reading together encouraged an activity that my kids may have skipped altogether. It’s well known that reading aloud benefits infants, toddlers and emerging readers. Aside from introducing children to a love of literature and storytelling, reading exposes them to written language, which differs from the spoken word. Writing contains more description and typically adheres to more formal grammatical structures than speech. When you choose books that exceed your child’s independent reading level, you promote language acquisition, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension. These benefits foster literacy in young people, but the pluses don’t diminish just because the kids grow up. Of course, once our kids become readers themselves, they can...