Too many people associate the phrase “early reading” with elementary school. In fact, an affinity for reading begins developing much earlier than that. Exposure to how words on the page become spoken words are valuable even in infancy.
This exposure is all the more crucial for Spanish reading skills, since many of our children will have less reinforcement of Spanish literacy than of English literacy in school. In an English-majority culture, we are always fighting the proverbial uphill battle to maintain a bilingual home, and this challenge is even greater when it comes to encouraging our little ones to love – and understand the need for – reading in both languages.
Although you may be tempted to overload your kids with cool reading apps and recorded stories, you should know that it is always best for kids to hear a live human reading aloud. Recordings are missing the natural inflection, reactions, and opportunities for discussion that provide the true value during story time.
Ready. Set. Grow! LA is at the forefront of the read-aloud movement with its Read early, Read ALOUD! campaign. At SpanglishBaby, we are extending the research and tips behind this crusade to our little Spanish readers.
Why is reading aloud so important? Check out what the experts conclude:
Colorín Colorado confirms that the benefits of reading aloud continue into elementary school: “Listening to stories read aloud by the teacher is one effective way for students to enrich vocabulary.”
According to the Reading is Fundamental campaign, every time we read aloud to our children, we are stimulating their imagination.
Reading aloud encourages conversations that you may not otherwise have with your kids. See what Usborne Books has to say about this benefit.
Here are ways you can help instill a love of the written (Spanish) word in your children:
- Give them your time. Remember that you don’t have to read a stack of bedtime stories for your child to benefit. Give what you can – whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 – for reading aloud and know that it’s making a difference.
- Establish a routine. Creating a positive association with reading Spanish stories is like giving your babies a hug or their favorite comfort food. It will become something they can’t live without.
- Read various types of books. In the same way that it’s good for adults to read both fiction and nonfiction, children can develop a breadth of reading skills by seeing everything from picture books to lengthy stories to nonfiction books about their favorite animals, places, or other interests.
- Be animated. Even if you’re not the dramatic type, get invested in stories with your niños. Give each character a different voice and repeat catchy phrases.
- Learn to laugh at yourself if you make a mistake pronouncing a word so that your kids will learn that reading is a trial-and-error process. This is imperative for children who have a preference for English or a weaker Spanish vocabulary.
Ready. Set. Grow! LA is giving away a library of 50 books to one lucky winner. To enter, you must fill out the survey on www.ReadySetGrowLA.org/contest and/or Follow Ready. Set. Grow! on Twitter and post a Tweet about your favorite book to read with your child with the contest hashtag: #myfavbook. For more contest details, go here.