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THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Save our children


Rhonda Blackman

THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Save our children

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I have been stumbling across several young adults and children who are unable to or can barely read and this has left me concerned and disturbed. This is a clear indicator that a number of people have fallen through the cracks in our educational system.
It is not left up to the school alone to teach reading, for parents are the first teachers of children and they should create the environment conducive to early reading stimulation. Parents should expose children to reading materials from an early age for this will put them on the road to early learning. In addition, it will build their vocabulary and object recognition skills, spark their curiosity about the world in which they live and create wonderful memories.
As children grow their reading interest grows. Parents need to be careful not to choose books that are more advanced than the reading ability of their children as this can frustrate them and hamper their interest.
Baby and preschoolers
It is essential to expose children to reading and books from as early as a baby. The best books for this age should be short with lots of colourful, eye-catching pictures that are fun to read aloud. Children at this age have a very short attention span and are attracted to colour.
Rhyming and rhythmic stories make words fun and make children aware of the sounds in words. These books make extensive use of sight words and repetition which will help children to automatically recognise the words in the future.
Infant children (4-7)
Children in this age group have a longer attention span and will benefit from longer stories with lots of pictures. Parents need to find books which invite interaction that will capture their children’s interest and encourage them to become active readers. Parents need also to choose books with text which their children can tackle alone and others with more difficult sentences and vocabulary, which they can read with their children and discuss together.
Juniors (8-11)
Fantasy plays a major role with children in this age group. Parents need to allow the interests of their child to guide them in the creative selection process. Select titles that will challenge them without causing too much frustration. For the avid reader, introduce classic books that contain elevated language. For less enthusiastic readers, try lighter series fiction that will keep them reading to find out what happens.
Teenagers
Many teenagers dislike reading. At this age children like books that are high adventure, romance, or a movie or TV mini-series.  Books exploring the social struggles of teenagers and general adolescent troubles may also strike a chord with them.
Remember, by choosing the correct age-appropriate books for your children, you will help them to gain a love for reading, and promote school success by developing vocabulary, writing, comprehension and study skills. The secret to fostering good reading is for children to understand and enjoy the book. Let’s save our children from falling through the cracks.
Rhonda Blackman is an educator, a reviewer with the British Research Educational Journal and a member of the American Education Research Association. Email: [email protected]

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