On Wednesday, March 2, Swope Health Services joined thousands of organizations in celebrating Read Across America Day.
Volunteers Ann Goodrich and Pam Bickel spent the morning in Pediatrics and WIC departments at SHS Central.
They sat one-on-one with children and quietly explored books, and at other times they read out loud to groups of kids. Children who participated selected stickers and took home a bag of books, donated via the Barnes & Noble holiday book drive.
Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), this annual celebration of reading also marks the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. That’s why our volunteers wore “Cat in the Hat” costumes and frequently used favorite Dr. Seuss books for read-alongs.
Goodrich, who has been a Reach Out and Read volunteer for more than two years, said she knows from personal experience as a Kindergarten teacher how important it is to read to children.
Children need a vocabulary of about 5,000 words by the time they start Kindergarten, she said. Those without will feel left behind, and she noted it can be difficult to catch up.
“I always tell parents to share their words with their kids,” she said. “You have 80,000 to 100,000 words — just give some to your child.”
Goodrich says it doesn’t even matter what you read — it’s OK to read your Facebook feed or text messages.
“They need to hear your voice,” she said. “They need to hear words and sounds to learn.”
According to the NEA, children who are read to and who read for pleasure are significantly more successful in school than children who do not.
Goodrich agrees, and frequently takes time with parents to coach them with reading tips. You can make reading interactive by pointing out what’s happening on the page and asking your child questions about the story. Help build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects.
“You should read to children from Day One,” she said. “Take 20 minutes a day and hold the child on your lap. It’s a confidence you are putting into your child.”
If you missed our Read Across America celebration, you can still learn about reading to your children. You can find a Reach Out and Read volunteer in the WIC department, typically every Thursday morning, reading to kids and meeting with parents.
Call to make an appointment, even for a same-day visit, at 816-923-5800. Do you have suggestions for reading with kids? Leave us a comment about your favorite books or ways you make reading fun.