Guest Post by Megan Daley
Creating a reader is about joyously reading aloud, modelling good reading habits and having a ready supply of beautiful books always on hand - in the home and in educational facilities. It is never too early to start reading with a baby and never too late to start.
As educators, we play a key role in raising children who read and who go on to develop a lifelong love affair with reading. The books we choose to share with the children in our care, the educational experiences we create to complement those carefully chosen books and the way we talk to their parents about sharing quality books at home and having a book filled home, can set up a child to be a child who reads, who loves words and language and a child who never forgets their educator reading them their favourite book, day after day and week after week.
I am constantly on the hunt for very high quality, engaging texts for our youngest readers, texts which will kickstart a life-long love affair with books and words. As a teacher librarian and early childhood educator I am well placed to source high-quality books, but as a busy educator/carer sometimes it is all too tempting to quickly grab the nearest book on the shelf.
Taking the time to find some beautiful books which have high literary value will pay dividends, I promise you. We all know that when we prepare our lunch the night before it’s always going to be a better and more nourishing lunch break the next day then if we have rushed and ended up with a can of baked beans to eat in the lunch room. Like nice lunches, book reading experiences are best prepared earlier and you’ll find yourself giving yourself a metaphorical pat on the back when you’ve taken the time to source a book that will suit your group of children. Maybe your children are excited about the nest they spotted in the playground and you’ve tracked down an awesome picture book on nests, maybe you’ve had a visit from a newborn sibling in the toddler room and you find a book on new siblings and all the dramas that come with that experience or maybe you just find a fabulously funny book that makes you laugh out loud, so is sure to have your children laughing and enjoying along with you.
I am a passionate advocate of reading for pleasure for our young people. Reading aloud with young children should not be a formal learning experience and should not be seen as a chore, by the adult or the child. Children who become lifelong readers are usually those who developed a love of reading at a young age, through being enthusiastically read aloud to by a trusted adult. Learning to read letters, then words then whole books occurs when young children first develop a love of story and see the power of reading those squiggly lines on the page. Educators should never underestimate the power they have to turn little picture book lovers into school students who love words and then adults who choose to relax with a book.
As early childhood educators, we must first imbue a love of reading in young people; everything else (the phonics, the sight words, the online reading programs) can and should wait. Love of reading comes first, learning to read follows.
So select your books with care, read them with passion and ignite that little spark of story joy in the minds of the children in your care.