“Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss

Why is literacy important and what does literacy mean? To put it simply, literacy is the ability to read and write and it’s important because it can set up a brighter future for generations to come.

Reading to your children from the start is a great way to kickstart development. You can even read to your child before they are born, it may seem silly, but a mother’s voice is one of the first sounds that a baby will recognize. While your baby may not understand the words, reading helps your baby learn how language works and how sentences are structured. Reading stimulates children’s minds and helps with their language development. It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you make it part of your daily routine, you are helping your children grow in knowledge and language.

There are many ways to get a child engaged in reading time.

One way to start is by making it easy for a child to always have a book in sight. Having books around the house will help children with early literacy behaviors like book handling, story-reading, and story comprehension. When reading to children, let the child hold the book, ask the child questions about what is happening on the page, follow their lead, and exaggerate the voice as you read aloud.  Lastly, cuddling together while reading helps your child feel special and secure; emotionally secure children can think clearer and focus better.

While reading is important, not all children enjoy reading or have the attention span for it, but there are alternatives to keep them learning.

Some interactive ways to get them interested in literacy include talking, singing, playing, storytelling and sign language. Make your home a text-rich environment by letting them play with magnet letters and numbers or having the children look at photo albums and picture books. Another way is modeling for your child; if they see you reading, they might be more interested to try reading themselves. You can make it a part of  your family’s daily routine to have older siblings read to the younger children or listening to audio books as a family. Sound out words as you read and having the child repeat the words back to you. Toddlers can be curious and impatient, so take an extra-long pause when reading to them to entice their curiosity. Also, it is important to have writing utensils on hand to have the child practice writing and drawing.

Building an environment where literacy is a part of your daily routine is important to help set up children onto a path of success later in life. Find one or two ideas that work best for you and incorporate them! Literacy is not a one size fits all, but there are many opportunities to include literacy in your day to day lives.

-Stephanie & Monica