The statistics show that more than a few of us fail miserably in the reading to our kids department. To wit:

* 50% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents.
* 40% of fourth-graders read below their grade level.
* 30% of first-graders are placed in remedial reading programs

After fourth grade, all school success is contingent on reading success. Starting school without early literacy skills puts children at risk for school failure, and we all know what that means.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that parents read to their children daily from six months of age. Why? First and foremost, reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development. Here are some other benefits of reading aloud:

– Stimulates imagination
– Fosters language development
– Promotes reading skills
– Prepares children for school success
– Motivates children to love books

Keep reading to your child even after he or she learns to read. A child can listen and understand more difficult stories than she can read on her own.

With all of these reasons, why don't parents read to their children throughout the day? Some parents will say they just don't have the time to sit down and read; others that they feel awkward reading out loud. And still more who are unable to read to their children because they never learned to read themselves. Sadly, the world has an enormous number of illiterate adults. But we have a chance to change all that by making a bit of an effort, and for those who are quite unable to read, we now have technologies that can help both children and adults.

Let's start at the beginning. For those embarrassed by reading aloud, remember one thing only: your young children will not judge you on your performance; they will love you more for doing it; have more lasting memories of time with you, and always thank you for making the effort. It won't be long before you've relaxed enough to enjoy it too. I have two favorite times for reading to my kids: after dark on winter afternoons, and at bedtime. The cuddle factor is a very important part of the process, so cuddle up on the sofa, in front of the fire or on their bed and make sure you have an arm around them or that they're lying against you comfortably.

Next pick a book that's in their age range. If you get a chance, read it out loud on your own first, practice the voices, and come up with a few funny noises to throw in. Get the kids giggling and you've won them over.

Be soft spoken when you can. Don't just steam through the book. Kids love the illustrations, especially when there are animals and things familiar to them, so point them out and encourage them to tell you what they are. If they get it right, lavish them with praise! If they don't, play it down, it's not a failure; tell them what it is and describe it to them to help them remember. Make one of the noises if the time is right! Next time they'll tell you what it is! Point at the words as you read, this helps with the all important word recognition process. Before long, if you purposely leave out a sentence, they'll fill it in for you!

An option to the traditional paper books, are digital online books that can be downloaded to your computer or mobile device and used wherever you are. They can be a tremendous help to those who genuinely can't find the time to read with their kids as often as they'd like. Some of these digital books have easy to follow text that comes up as the book is narrated and include sound effects and music so it sounds a bit like a movie, which is more than enough to keep the kids interest. You can watch these with the kids too, or turn off the sound and read to them yourself. These online digital books are also great for adults learning to read and some even come in different languages ​​- very handy if you're trying to learn Spanish! The younger a child begins to learn a language, the easier it is for them to retain it for later.

So, make a big effort to sit down with the rug rats and read together. It's one of the best things you can do for them and their future, and it's one of the most important times you will spend with them too. And remember, if, for whatever the reason, you can't read to your children enough during the day, there are digital books that your children will enjoy. You have the ability to improve those frightening statistics above.

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