For parents who are concerned about toy overload, gift giving during the holidays can be tricky. On one hand, there’s an inherent joy in the giving and receiving of gifts. On the other hand, we all have a tendency to go a little overboard.
When I think about the meaningful gifts that I received as a child, I remember the special books given to me by friends and family who saw the value and joy in reading and helped me foster my own love of literacy. Now as a grandmother, I know that while children will outgrow toys and clothes, the gift of reading is truly a gift that lasts a lifetime.
For me, holidays are all about family traditions. Here are three ways that you can give the gift of reading this year:
1. Start the family tradition of gifting the children in your life a favourite book from your own childhood.
One of the biggest joys of being a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle is getting to share our favourite books as bedtime stories. But bedtime stories are more than just bonding time. As a child is being read to, they make connections between the words on the pages and the sounds they are hearing. This helps to increase their language skills and expands their comprehension and vocabulary. They learn to think and talk about the story, gathering the information as if they were reading it themselves. Daily reading, no matter what form it takes, is essential to building a good foundation for literacy.
2. Encourage your children to select some of their own books to donate to their local library, book drive or community organization.
For many low-income Canadian families, books are still luxury items. For children in these families, lack of access makes it hard to build a strong foundation early. It’s estimated that a typical middle-class child enters 1st grade with 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one reading time, compared to a child from a low-income family who averages just 25 hours. Learning to read early is the beginning step with lasting impact for future success.
As many of us look for charitable causes to support this holiday season, take the time to donate books to your local library, book drive or organizations like Reading Is Fundamental. This will help provide all children with access to books and programs to support their learning.
3. Give the gift of learning.
Learning to read early in life has a tremendous impact on the future of a child’s education. As parents and grandparents, we want to make sure that our children can read confidently and well, and we know that a love of reading is one of the best gifts we can give to the children in our lives. Share your love of reading with a budding bookworm in your life by gifting them a subscription to learn to read on Ooka Island.