National Reading Awareness Month

March is National Reading Awareness Month, which encourages parents, caregivers, and others interested in children’s development to do activities to increase children’s enjoyment of reading, writing and literacy. The act of reading aloud to a child is the most important activity adults can do.  Between the ages of zero and three, the brain develops more quickly than another time in life.  It is important to do literacy activities during this early stage in life. 
Reading is an important skill for many reasons, especially because up until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read. However, in fourth grade, they begin reading to learn. They are using their skills to gain more information in subjects such as math and science and to solve problems. They are beginning to think critically about what they are learning as well as acting upon and sharing the knowledge with the world around them.
There a many activitiesparents, grandparents, siblings or family friends can do to help children learn the skills needed to read. Reading to babies helps them attend to language, learn new words and understand the structure of language. Reading stories to preschoolers helps them work on meaning and language development. Older preschoolers are able to understand complex stories with a plot. They understand more about themselves and others, developing richer language and vocabulary that is more sophisticated. Children with a large working vocabulary will do better in school.
As children get older, they need someone to read withthem and become a reading partner. Reading becomes a shared experience with both of you participating. It is easy to do and may be more enjoyable for everyone.
Helping any age child become a better reader can be as easy as talking to them and adding new words to their vocabulary. Help them write their own stories and illustrate them by drawing pictures. Have books available in your home. Encourage your child’s interest in reading. It will help them in school and promote a lifelong love of reading.
For more information look for these publications from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach:
Understanding Children – Language Development
Understanding Children – Learning to Read and Write

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