Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Favorite Children's Books - A Harm or Help?

When I was little - even before I could read - one of my favorite books was Curious George. There were other books that I liked, but there was something about that curious monkey and the book’s illustrations that really appealed to me. When my mom took me to our public library, I’d head straight to the children’s section and grab some Curious George books. I might have checked out other books too, but I don’t remember them. I remember wanting Curious George. That’s what made me want to go to the library. That’s what helped fuel my love of books.

That memory raises certain questions in my mind.

  • How important is it for young children to discover their own favorite book or books?
  • Is it harmful or helpful for parents, teachers, and librarians to discourage children to fixate on a specific book?
  • Does focusing on a favorite book limit a child’s reading world in the long-run or just short term, or does it help create an early love for reading that will ultimately open the child to a much broader world of books?

Personally, I think having a favorite book can be a good thing for a child. Is it essential? No, but I think when a child finds a favorite book or favorite books, it definitely fuels their love for reading. I think the same can be said when a child discovers a favorite genre. When they find books they love, they’ll love to read.

While I think it’s fine for parents, teachers and librarians to encourage children to read a wide variety of books and genres, it can be harmful if too much pressure is put on a child not to stick with a favorite book or genre. Children need to be empowered with choice in reading. Over time their tastes will vary and change, and they will naturally branch out into other books. The important thing is to get them reading and to help them find books that will inspire them to read and learn more.

Monday, July 8, 2013

When is the best time to read to your children?

The simple answer. Whenever you can. Every family situation is different. For us, right before bedtime always worked best. It was a great time to help settle the kids down before putting them to bed. It also made bedtime more enjoyable for us and the kids. Often I had chief bedtime reading responsibilities. Sometimes my wife did. Frequently we shared the responsibility with a divide and conquer approach to bedtime reading.

Reading at bedtime doesn’t work for everyone. Maybe the best time for some parents to read to their children is right before or right after an afternoon nap. Maybe it’s after your child comes home from school. Perhaps, the best time to read to your child comes while you’re sharing an afternoon snack. Maybe it’s during trips to the library.

The important thing is to read to your children – everyday if possible. Reading often to your children is crucial to the development of their own ability to read. Start young and read often. Find the time and location that works best for you and your children, and then try to make it a habit.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net