Give the gift of reading this year

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas season, the season of gift giving, is quickly approaching. The stores had holiday decorations up before Halloween, enticing consumers to spend more and more of their hard-earned dollars on giving. Most of what I see is aimed at children. I suppose that the marketers are counting on parents wanting to give their children the best of everything.

It can be overwhelming.

There is a gift that you can give that won’t cost you anything but your time. Read to your child. No matter how old they are. Even teenagers like a rousing story read to them. This is the perfect gift on so many levels, the most direct of which is the attention and one-on-one time the child receives. In our busy world of single-parent households or households where both parents have to work outside the home to make ends meet, this is a most precious gift.

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Beyond those benefits, the children learn to use their imaginations. They must ‘create’ the pictures in their mind rather than rely on TV and the Internet spoonfeeding the pictures to them. This is an important skill in retaining what is read.

It used to be that some parents relied on the television to keep their children quiet. That questionable practice has exploded to hand-held devices now. With this new ‘baby-sitter’ has come a reduced attention span and poorer memory.

Reading to your child will have the opposite effect, increasing attention span over time and increasing retention.

Mothers-to-be can start the read-aloud tradition even before the baby is born. Scientists have shown that children can hear their mother’s voice and react to it before birth.

By reading out loud, the unborn child gets used to the cadence of the written word. Cadence recognition is a pre-reading skill we all had to learn before learning to read.

So, mothers are giving children a head start in their education.

Children who are read to on a regular basis do better in school. They also become people who enjoy reading all their lives.

If you would like to give your child the gift that keeps on giving, give them the gift of yourself reading a story to them.

Another gift that keeps on giving is a free library card for yourself or your child. Crosby Memorial Library and Poplarville Public Library have the books you need.

And, if you are not sure where to start, come in and see us. We’ll be happy to help you.

By Carol Phares.