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Early literacy can mean later success

By Chelsea Childers

Rowan Public Library

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” said Emilie Buchwald. Early literacy is important. Studies show that toddlers and preschoolers who read every day have a significantly larger and higher level vocabulary than those who don’t.

There are many benefits of reading for young children. Reading aloud exposes children to words, phrases and meanings that will help them develop an understanding of their native language. Parents who share a passion for reading dedicate part of their family time to storytimes and library visits.

This active reading yields an independent reader who seeks out information by reading books and various literature as they grow.

Language arts is an important subject taught from early age learning through secondary education. Learning your native language begins early in life and continues every day. In the United States, students are challenged to learn proper English to be proficient at high school graduation. It is critical for caregivers and parents to help young ones develop early literacy skills so they be ready to go to school.

Want to solve a word problem in math on End of Grade testing? Without being able to read and comprehend the question, there can be no solution found. How would one conduct a scientific experiment without writing a hypothesis using scientific method? Most parents speak with their children every day, but the vocabulary is often limited and repetitive. Reading together builds vocabulary words a child will hear and begin to process and use.

Thumbing through a book improves a child’s attentiveness and demonstrates their ability to scan pages to look for an understanding of the words and drawings. Some parents might believe it’s useless to read to a toddler who will not pay attention. These youngsters may rip pages when turning them, throw the books, or even suddenly decide they want a different book. Reading to a child with a limited attention span requires patience, but can be the beginning for a young reader.

Parents and guardians should encourage their children by modeling the posture and body language of an attentive reader. Modeling can be a fun activity and eventually lead to the child becoming more attentive and following along while reading. By devoting time for a book with your child each day, it can support what is expected of them when they go to school.

For a period of time, they are immersed in the art of deliberately sitting still. Keep it interesting. When I was little, my mother worked a lot. She would record stories for me to listen to when I went to bed. I can still remember a story about a little worm that lived in an apple, which ended up rolling down a hill. It was “Grasshopper on The Road” by Arnold Lobel.

She did all the voices of all the characters differently. It was amazing. Even when my mother had to work late, I still got a storytime with her. There are  many different ways to make this experience work for each  family. Just be creative. Older siblings can read to the younger ones. They, like my 11-year-old, are often taught in school to read with expression. This is a terrific opportunity for all because they are experiencing the material together.

Reading inspires a desire for knowledge which will lead to questions about literature. A book can take you to countless different places with diverse cultures and languages. It may also inspire parents to step outside their comfort zones and research answers to questions about things they are not familiar with.

When reading to a child, first introduce the cover. Talk to them about what they see and what kinds of situations might arise from the pictures. Ask them open-ended questions where there can be no wrong answers, only hypotheses on what will happen in the story. Encourage descriptive words and help the child identify with each of the characters by identifying what they are doing and feeling.

When children can put themselves into the story, it helps to develop empathy. As they feel what the characters are feeling, children begin to understand how to relate to emotions. This builds their social and emotional skills, which they will use throughout their lives.

While books are a form of entertainment, television, video games, smart phones and apps are standard among children. Despite all the technology, reading a book a child is interested in can be just as enjoyable. Rowan Public Library cardholders may download Libby for Overdrive or use Tumblebooks to read on mobile devices.

For school-age children, avoid the summer slump during vacation. Summer reading at Rowan Public Library has programs for all ages and welcomes all to attend. Find out more at http://rowanpubliclibrary.readsquared.com/. RPL also has summer reading outreach with our Stories to Go Bookmobile which follows the meal sites of Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ summer meal program. The meal sites and times are posted the second week in June at https://rss.nutrislice.com/.

Reading together helps to create a bond. Nothing is better than snuggling up with your children and reading before bedtime. This brings the family together because when parents work, this is the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Personally, with the twin 4-year-olds I have at home, it is extremely rewarding.

Sometimes we as parents are too tired to read to our kids. When those days come, just have them read to you. Let them take a picture walk with you through a book and they can describe what they think is happening. They always mirror behavior, so be excited about reading.

Wonderful resources can be found at Smart Start Rowan, a veteran partner of the Rowan Public Library, at https://www.rowan-smartstart.org/literacy/. Happy reading, parents and children. We hope to see you this summer at RPL.

Friends of RPL present Wiley Cash: At Trinity Oaks retirement community,728 Klumac Road, tonight, 6:30 p.m. Wiley Cash will headline the Friends of RPL annual general meeting.  Open to Friends of RPL members. Memberships begin at $10 a year for an individual; available on site. Doors open at 6 p.m. When the space reaches capacity, doors will be closed. Seating is first-come, first-served. A book signing and reception will follow. Salisbury’s South Main Book Co. will be on site. For more information, call 704-216-8240.

China Grove Community Block Party: Saturday, June 1, 5-8 p.m. Visit downtown China Grove and stop by Rowan Public Library’s booth. Enjoy activities and learn about RPL’s Summer Reading programs. For more information, call 704-216-7728.

Fairy Tale Party: Headquarters, Friday, 2-4 p.m. Children ages 3 to 10 may dress up in their finest clothes for this royal tea time. Songs, stories and sweet treats provided. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Register in advance at 704-216-8234.

Gardening Party Saturdays: South, Saturday, 11 a.m. This month’s program is a plant exchange. Questions? Call Paulette at 704-216-7731.

Get Lit(erature) Trivia and Social Hour: June 6, 7:30 p.m. City Tavern, 113 E. Fisher St. First of three special, pop-culture-themed trivia nights hosted by local establishments. Theme is “Dystopias”! Test your knowledge and then discuss your favorite books and movies in the genre. Door prizes. An Adult Summer Reading Program for ages 18 and up. Program lasts 90 minutes. For more details, call 704-216-8248.

Summer Reading

Baby Time (infants to 23 months) Highly interactive program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.; South, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

Toddler Time (18-35 months) Highly interactive 30-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; South, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Preschoolers (3-5 years) Highly interactive 30-45-minute program for children and their adult caregivers. Heaquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; South Mondays, 10:30 a.m.

Space crafts: June 11, 3:30 p.m., South; June 13, 3:30 p.m., East. Make light sabers and droid mason jars. This is a Teen Summer Reading Program, designed for rising sixth through 12th graders. Program lasts 90 mins. For more details, call 704-216-8269.

Horizons Unlimited: June 11, 2 p.m., South; June 12, 2 p.m., East; June 13, 10 a.m., Cleveland; June 13, 2 p.m., headquarters. Rowan-Salisbury School’s Horizons Unlimited will lead hands-on science experiments. This is a School Age Summer Reading program designed for rising first through fifth graders, though all ages are welcome. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Program lasts 45-60 minutes. For more details, call 704-216-8234.

Meet a video game designer: June 11, 3:30 p.m., headquarters. Teens may hang out and learn about the upcoming summer reading program, including how to use ReadSquared, the Teen Lock-In, and summer reading prizes. Attendees will join the “Meet a Video Game Designer” featuring Ed Hardison, Typhoon Studios’ Lead Character Artist at 4 pm. This is a Teen Summer Reading event, designed for rising sixth through 12th graders. For more details, call 704-216-8269.

• June 11, 4 p.m. Typhoon Studios’ Lead Character Artist Ed Hardison will be live on Skype to answer questions and talk about the sci-fi adventure game Journey to the Savage Planet, which will be released later this year.

Displays: Headquarters, Photowalk and RPL Summer Reading, Universe of Stars; East, homemade soap by Rachel Mowry; South, Universe of Stories by Stephanie Reister.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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