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Learn to read, and read to learn

Isabella, age 3, is a regular bilingual Storytime attendee at the library. As her mother puts it, “because I love to read, I want my children to love it, too! I want to share this world with them. I value it. Whether they read ‘trash’ or ‘proper stuff’ is immaterial to me. I let them read what appeals to them because, at this point, it is the habit of reading that is important. If ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ doesn’t capture my daughter’s imagination, but ‘Batman’ does, then so be it.”

Reading is the key to all learning. A young child who can appreciate a good storybook gets a good start in school. He becomes confident about reading and develops a positive attitude toward learning that helps him a lot in his future. Unlike speaking, the development of these skills does not come naturally. ‘Learning to Read’ requires careful and systematic instruction and this must begin during the early years of a child's education, basically at home itself.

Leaders in education suggest that kids who don't acquire reading fluency and comprehension skills early in life struggle throughout their school life and later on in their future careers too. Studies show that a student in the first grade who struggles with reading will have an increased chance of struggling when he is in the fourth grade. Teach them to learn to read focusing on the development of skills in two critical areas: (a) Reading each word accurately and fluently and (b) understanding or comprehending the meaning of texts read.

Studies show that ‘Learning to Read’ and ‘Reading to Learn’ should occur simultaneously and continually throughout a child's elementary and secondary years of education. Reading for information and comprehension should start at the early stage itself as a kid begins to read. Researches also indicate that in areas where students are expected to apply their reading skills, many of them need more practice developing their basic reading skills.

Background knowledge, vocabulary, and experience play a major role in reading comprehension. A student with good fundamental reading skills may still struggle with comprehension when confronted with diverse contexts without a strong knowledge base. For example, in order to understand a story about the game of cricket, they need to have a little bit of experience with cricket.

In today’s competitive world, reading is a basic skill in everyday life. When children read to learn a whole world of new vocabulary and information is open to them influencing their academic outcomes as well as their self-esteem. Let them read to get the news, to learn about rules, and to learn about how to do things. Let them use reading to learn languages and other subjects. The more they read, the more input their brain gets to improve vocabulary, grammar, and even writing skills.

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