Archived Story

John Jarpe: Reading aloud to kids

Published 10:44pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It’s March and in Michigan that means it’s Reading Month. All across the state, students in elementary schools will participate in reading challenges, and teachers will encourage students to read for pleasure on their own. The idea is to emphasize reading as a habit and get kids turned on to the joys of reading.

Adults can help by reading to kids. If there’s one single, simple thing that people at home can do to make young children better prepared for school, make school children more successful and to give a lifelong gift to young people, it’s this: read to kids. It’s such a simple thing to do, but it’s not done nearly enough.

The biggest thing it takes is time. But, even there, I’m only talking about 15 minutes to a half hour at a time. Younger children can usually sit and listen to a good book for 15 minutes or so. Older kids, when you’re reading chapter books to them, can pay attention for 30 minutes.

In my opinion, you can read to kids up to the ages of about 11 or 12. If you have a library card, that’s another great thing — it’s a free activity!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of reading to my grandson on his second birthday. He chose a book he got as a gift, “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss. As I read the whole conversation with Sam-I-Am, it took me back all those years ago when I read the same book to his mother and his auntie. I could tell the way he looked at the pages and paid attention that he was going to ask for that story again and again.

Teachers, make sure you read to elementary students every single day. Tell principals or superintendents like me who are worried about test scores that it will pay off in the long run.

Parents, please develop this habit if you don’t do it already.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles — if you’re lucky enough to see your young relatives, sit down with them and read. It’s a gift that will last forever.

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