FAMILY: The importance of introducing reading to young children

Reading to babies and kids instills good habits for the rest of their lives, say experts

The “Books for Babies” program, run by the Greater Victoria Public Library, aims to promote reading to newborns.

New parents receive a kit from either the library, a public health nurse or midwife that includes a board book, C.D. and other literacy information.

“It’s never too early to start reading to your baby,” said Tracy Kendrick, children’s and teen services coordinator for the GVPL.

Exposing children to reading from an early age is key to making reading a lifelong love affair said Kendrick.

“Lots of studies have shown when families read and it’s a reading household the kids are more willing to read on their own.”

Exposing children to reading early also builds a good platform for when they enter school.

“If you wait until your child can read on their own, they will miss out on a lot,” said Kendrick. “Whether the parent is aware of it or not, they are setting down their reading skills before they enter school.”

Also finding the right reading level for your child is important for ensuring reading is an enjoyable routine said Paul Pantaleo, learning support teacher at Sir James Douglas School and sessional instructor at the University of Victoria.

“Theres a lot of frustration when they feel like they can’t read.”

Pantaleo compares the feeling to trying to read a book you know nothing about.

“You don’t purposely go to the bookstore and pick a book on advance physics to frustrate yourself.”

Often, the library is a valuable resource for struggling parents.

“I encourage parents to use our public libraries, especially the ones who don’t have the means to buy books,” said Pantaleo.

Starting out young not only helps to build a successful school platform, but also a lifelong one.

“Reading is absolutely important, it’s what leads towards a literate society,” said Pantaleo.