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  • Writer's pictureJulie

Inspire Reading with Classic Stories

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Book: Treasury of Picture Book Classics, A Child's First Collection

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers

Notes on Content: The dozen books collected within this volume include some of my favorite children's books (appropriate for children of all ages).

​This book was a Christmas gift from my brother, Bryan. We've both discovered the joy of sharing our love of reading with adorable grandchildren! The Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, A Child's First Collection contains many wonderful books, like Goodnight Moon and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, that we read when we were children or shared with our children, and that we now read with our new generation of loved ones.

In a world that's becoming more digitized by the minute, some children may not have much access to actual books. Perhaps this is why too many teens can't read several paragraphs out loud without stumbling over some words, and why they don't understand basic vocabulary words or the concepts behind the words. Even if children can access literature through their iPads or smart phones, books should be part of the landscape of every home. We should be surrounded by libraries of books and make reading an important and enjoyable habit---beyond quickly checking text messages and abbreviated social media posts.

In a Psychology Today article, The Magic of Reading Aloud to Babies, Lynda Denworth quoted the American Academy of Pediatrics: "One in three children starts kindergarten without the necessary foundational literacy. Reading rates by third grade are the best predictor of high school graduation, but alarmingly, two-thirds of children in the United States, and 80% of those below the poverty line, fail to develop reading proficiency by third grade."

When is a child old enough for books? We've been counseled to introduce books and stories to infants (my husband and I even read to our unborn children during pregnancy). Yes, keeping books in our homes can be messy and can clutter our tables, floors, and shelves. And many little ones will rip pages, chew on corners, and scribble in our books---but in doing so, they're learning to explore the pages as they become comfortable with books that they may read again and again when they are older.

I remember walking into our living room and seeing my six-month-old grandson surrounded by toppled books he'd pulled from shelves and immersed in the pages of an open book! When he looked up, he smiled and his expression seemed to say, "Look what I found, Grandma! Isn't this fun?" I quickly sat on the floor beside him and enjoyed turning pages (a even ripping a few). A couple months later, we were there again and he listened as I read from the pages. I look forward to being able to be the listener as he reads the story to me.

"Most children...will react creatively to the best work of a truly creative person." Introduction quote from Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics, A Child's First

The Las Vegas City Council Celebrates Reading

I attended a Las Vegas City Council meeting this week and was pleased to see their opening ceremonies feature several literacy projects as part of Nevada Reading Week. They celebrated essay contest winners, approved grants to schools, and introduced the availability of free books available in converted newspaper stands as part of a community book exchange like Little Free Libraries. Then, part of Council business involved discussion about programs within the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to better support the local community education efforts. I appreciated that the Mayor allowed me to speak briefly about the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) hosting a Short Term Rental Certification Course regarding "best practices" within this emerging industry. They recognized the benefits to the community that this continuing education course can bring. We certainly appreciate their full and continued support. Education can be a bridge to better communication, understanding, and collaboration.

See (about 35 minutes into the broadcast for the quotes about the literacy projects and about an hour and half for the NSHE presentation)

Mayor Carolyn Goodman, an accomplished educator and administrator, spoke several times about the need for children to gain a love for reading good books. She said, "Hopefully all of you who are invited to read in schools or wherever,... do it!"

Councilwoman Michelle Fiore offered some tips parents and grandparents can use "when teaching children how to learn how to study." When we read with our children, she suggested we have the child read the content back to us and if they encounter a word they don't know, to have them read the definition of the word in a handy children's dictionary. She explained, "Once he knows the meaning of a word, you see him light up! He gets it and he'll remember what he reads!"

The Councilwoman's advice is in line with the studies cited in the Psychology Today article mentioned earlier. Denworth says that "reading to young children is an easy and obvious way to expose them to language. It expands their vocabularies—you don’t have to go to the zoo, for instance, to talk about camels and elephants. And reading gives parents something to talk about." Discussing the meaning of words and the message behind a story can also enhance the minds of young readers and help them use this new understanding to create a foundation for values and life skills.

And reading can be fun and entertaining. Councilman Steve Seroka spoke about reading to elementary school children, too, and his choice of books for these readings usually comes from Dr. Seuss. I love the sing-song poetry style of this series of classic books, too.

Video from YouTube:

Adults holding positions of authority who share their love of reading can be powerful examples to children and adults! All who spoke about literacy at this meeting pointed out, though, that the most important place for children to learn to read is in their homes, from their parents. One of the educators who presented to the Las Vegas City Council stated that the number of books found within a home is an indicator of the education level and potential of those within that home. (As an avid book collector, I was especially excited about this bit of information).

Mayor Goodman further defined book reading as "the great equalizer" and called it "the key." I whole-heartedly agree and look forward to taking my new collection of classic stories, along with a children's dictionary, to share my love of reading and learning with my grandchildren!

How do you help children gain a love for reading good books?

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