Man and two children sitting in living room reading book and smiling

Man and two children sitting in living room reading book and smiling

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 offers children’s storytimes. Registration opens Monday for this summer’s preschool storytime series, intended for kids ages 3½ to 5, according to the library website’s events listing. (Check the listing for toddler storytimes and a teens’ Summer Reading Club, too.)

Can’t regularly get to a library or afford new books? No sweat. The United Way based in Wilkes-Barre, which aims to reduce the area’s high rate of childhood poverty, recently teamed with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. So far, 1,000 participants in the Wyoming Valley have been enrolled to receive a new book through the mail each month until age 5.

For a registration brochure for your child, call the agency at 570-829-6711 or stop by the Osterhout Free Library.

“In the time it takes to read a book at bedtime, thousands of new connections are created in a child’s brain that help her read, write and communicate,” according to a fact sheet distributed by the United Way. “Daily reading has a direct impact on a child’s healthy development just like other routine activities such as eating, sleeping and brushing teeth.”

During the “lazy” days of summer, be sure your child cracks open a book.

And another.

And another …