Children need to feel positive about reading and literacy experiences. They often make displays of reading or writing attempts, calling attention to themselves: “Look at my story.” And the adults around should take time to find out about the child’s work.
Create a warm atmosphere around storytime, reading, and pretend play activities. Once in a while, invite other favorite people to join in during reading time. Respond to children’s remarks and observations about books, and take time to answer their questions while reading. Make literacy activities fun and a part of play—events they look forward to, rather than those they feel forced into. Give them a chance to choose the books they want to read, but you should choose a few too—both to make sure that you have some manageable selections in the pile you bring home and to let them see you participate in the fun of the choosing.
Take children to the library regularly, and remember to offer them many kinds of books. One child may dislike all storybooks, but fall in love with nonfiction books about dinosaurs, trains, animals, or nature. Other children love nursery rhymes and poetry. All young children will want you to read favorite books again and again, but four- and five-year-olds will also develop a frequent need for new and different books.
For children who love TV, videos, and CD-ROMs, connect these visual experiences to reading and books. For example, after watching a nature program about animals, get a book on a similar topic and extend their knowledge and enjoyment. Act out scenes from a favorite video. Or create homemade books with themes from television shows or videos. Use pictures cut out from magazines or catalogs, the child’s drawings, and labels written by an adult to create the child’s very own book.