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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Developing Young Readers Key to Academic Success

Yesterday’s blog highlighted the role of parental involvement in educational performance. Parents being actively engaged in their children’s education points the way to improving our schools. What does this mean for a parent that is working outside the home, is not familiar with modern teaching methods or has limited educational background themselves? Of course having a designated time for homework to be done and checking to insure that homework is completed is one task. Regular contact with teachers around assignments and always attending teacher-parent conferences are another. But probably the best investment any parent can make to help their child academically is having their child become a reader. The Department of Education has a good report on the importance of starting reading early and how to encourage children to read.

We are fortunate to have a great library in Howard County that has many programs for young readers. In 2002 the Library formed a partnership with the Howard County School System in developing the A+ program to integrate classroom instruction with library resources. A summer reading program last year had over 25,000 young readers participating. Word Up, a poetry contest, Battle of the Books and the Howard County Spelling Bee are other programs to encourage reading, writing and spelling.

Another good online resource is the Enoch Pratt “Kids Buzz” site that has many interactive games, books to read and videos to watch. The current video on dry ice is fascinating. The Charlotte Public Library also has a good site called Story Place which is a digital library.

Building a child’s home library doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Two good sources for inexpensive books are Borders and Amazon.com. Borders in the Columbia Crossing Shopping Center always has a good selection of children’s books outside their front door that are heavily discounted. Used books sold on Amazon has childen’s books for as little as $.01 and with the shipping it still comes to $3 or $4 for used books in good condition. Finally a resource that I have used to distribute hundreds of books to grandparents raising grandchildren in Baltimore is the Baltimore Reads program. You can select books for free at their Book Bank in the Baltimore Sun building on Calvert Street. This is an excellent resource for teachers and day care providers.

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