I started reading to my son the first day we got home from the hospital. Feeling exhausted and sleep deprived reading stories was the only thing that would keep me awake in the wee hours of the morning when he was wide awake. I could tell that he enjoyed the sound of my voice as I recited my old favorites like The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss and Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle, but I definitely enjoyed the content more than him in those early days.
As the months went on, reading became a regular part of our days. It was a time when we could both relax and cuddle while discovering new stories. I was amazed at how early on he started interacting with books. At first he would smile at certain pictures, touch and feel the texture of the pages and of course suck on the corners of the book. I remember when he was about six months old I found him sitting on the floor flipping through a book, giggling away. It was a great feeling to know that our daily story time had ignited an early passion for reading.
The reason I’m sharing my personal experiences with my son is because Friday, January 27th is Family Literacy Day. A day that was developed to create awareness about literacy issues in Canada and encourage families to read together on a daily basis. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about why reading is so important for children of all ages; and why it is never too early to start reading with your child. An excerpt from the book, How to Raise a Reader, highlights some of the reasons why reading to young children is so important, not only for their cognitive development but it also helps to build strong relationships between family members. “For a child, more time spent with a parent reading aloud increases his or her level of attachment, enhances a sense of security, and imparts the knowledge that their parent feels they are worthwhile people with whom to spend time.” Since about three-quarters of Canadian families with children 0-6 years have one or both parents working outside the home, reading is a wonderful way to bring the family together at the end of a long day.
Success By 6®, a community initiative managed by United Way focused on ensuring that all Edmonton children from 0 to 6 years have the supports they need for a lifetime of healthy growth and development, encourages literacy awareness through its support of the Centre for Family Literacy. The Centre for Family Literacy’s mission is to build, develop and improve literacy within families and communities. Success By 6® helps them to do this by providing funding for the Literacy Classroom on Wheels (C.O.W.) and the Alberta Prairie Literacy C.O.W.( or as children call it, the big COW bus).
So on Friday, January 27th, take some time out of your day to read with a special child in your life, I know that reading more has benefited me as much as it has my son.
Here are some of the many benefits of early literacy development, that last throughout childhood and beyond:
- Expanded vocabulary and writing skills
- Healthy social and emotional development
- Longer attention spans, promoting better retention of information in school
- Enhanced imaginative and critical thinking skills
- A sense of closeness and intimacy between parent and child
- Enhanced memory and higher levels of concentration
Early Literacy Resources in the City of Edmonton:
Edmonton Public Library and the Centre for Family Literacy
Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn
Books for Babies
Daddy and Baby Time
Fun for Ones
Rhymes That Bind
Literacy Classroom on Wheels (C.O.W.)
Alberta Prairie Literacy C.O.W
Angela Dorval is a Communications Specialist with Success By 6 Edmonton and is a proud mother of a one year old boy.