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A Home Environment Fit for an Early Reader

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The above pictures of my sweet baby Lily at 9 months is the inspiration behind this post.

 I happened to be rushing around downstairs preparing dinner while my little one ran around holding her stuffed giraffe singing her made-up melody when all of a sudden it went quiet. If you are a parent, you fear the sound of quiet. You would think we would welcome silence amid 24/7 chaos, but what silence means is a child is “up to no good.” This time when I turned around, I found the sweetest sight in all of town – she was reading 🙂

Of course, at 9 months old my daughter doesn’t read in the sense that you or I read, but for her development she was reading. She knows how to properly hold a book, turn the pages left to right, and read top to bottom. These small yet mighty reading behaviors make for a successful, educated child in the years to come.

As a teacher and reader myself, I stocked her room with books well before she was born. She wasn’t a fan at first because she preferred colorful toys that made loud noises and books weren’t as noisy as the chorus of obnoxious plastic toys in the playroom. But, overtime, as our bedtime routine included reading books, Lily started to take an interest.

She would…

  • lay them all out on the floor making a reader’s choice- what am I in the mood to read today?
  • pick up a few books for a closer look, taking note of the front and back cover and all the illustrations inside
  • pick up and drop, pick up and drop …. and always turn the book right side up before beginning the ritual all over again

What made me pause when I saw Lily this one day on the living room floor was that all of those habits that I didn’t realize she was noticing, added up to this one moment:

  • sitting on the floor
  • holding a book with two hands
  • ensuring it’s right side up
  • perusing the pages left to right and top to bottom

Those little fingers knew exactly what to do as her little brain made thousands of reading decisions in a moment- is this interesting? what is it about? who are the characters? is this like other favorite books of mine? etc. She is evaluating and reading within seconds of touching the book.

Out of all the items on the coffee table next to the couch, she selected my husband’s book. That to me is a win as mom and a win as an educator!

All we want for kids is for them to learn and grow up to be amazing adults who give back to the community with their gifts. When we create an environment where reading is encouraged, modeled, and supported with a variety of books, kids learn to love reading as a hobby, not just to get information for a test.

My child has become a reader before she even knew what a reader was in the most formal of ways.

I am so proud of her ability to watch and repeat what her mommy and daddy taught her. It’s proof that kids are impressionable even at only a few months old. As adults, we must ensure our kiddos can blossom into their potential by providing the means to get them there – emotional, physical and mental support.

For all of the kiddos going to school this year who do not have books at home or who do not have reading role models either, teachers please create a classroom that sets the stage for reading. There are great deals around your city for inviting rugs and/or seating options so students can cozy up with a good book. Libraries and other organizations can help build your library too. It does not have to cost a fortune to build a reader in every child, you just have to create a place for them to read and teach them how by picking up one book at a time. Show them the joy of reading for fun!

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About the author, Gretchen

I am an educator, passionate about cultivating talent in aspiring and new teachers through practical tips and strategies. My blog, book, and podcast are geared towards empowering teachers to enter the profession and stay there due to the advice and encouragement I provide. We have a real need in our nation for strong leaders in classrooms, and I believe its my calling and duty to coach teachers to achieve and maintain best teaching practices in order to drive the growth and success of our students in and outside the classroom.