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April 7, 2010 > Be a D.E.A.R.-encourage your kids to read

Be a D.E.A.R.-encourage your kids to read

Submitted By Sandy Burke

April 12 marks the celebration of the National Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R), a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority. Sylvan Learning is celebrating National D.E.A.R. Day by providing parents with simple tips to encourage a love of reading year-round.

"Strong reading skills are incredibly important for all subjects in school, therefore it's critical that parents help their children develop these skills early on," says Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., senior vice president of education outreach for Sylvan Learning. "The more children read, the more they'll enjoy reading, and the better readers they're likely to become."

Sylvan Learning recommends that parents set aside at least one hour per week - 10 to 15 minutes a day - to do some form of reading activity with their child.

Since it's never too early to start reading with your child, here are 12 tips in honor of National D.E.A.R. Day to help parents nurture their children's reading behaviors:

1. Begin at birth by sharing picture books with your babies. Talking, reading, singing, and listening to newborns and toddlers helps build the knowledge required for success in reading.

2. Recite nursery rhymes and lullabies to newborn babies.

3. When talking with an infant or toddler ask questions and allow pauses to help them develop an understanding of conversation.

4. Narrate your activities to young children to connect the words and their meaning. For example, "I'm putting on your coat." To connect a word with its meaning, point to an object and repeat the word several times.

5. When reading aloud to young children, point to the words as you speak them. You can also follow the sentence with your finger so that children begin to recognize how words appear in a book.

6. Re-read the same book often because children enjoy hearing the same stories again and again. Hearing and seeing familiar words and pictures may help them have an easier time learning to read.

7. Encourage talk and discussion, as this contributes to the development of language skills and can help with reading. Ask everyone around the dinner table to talk about his or her day or current book that he or she is reading.

8. Model the reading behavior. Set aside time to read every day.

9. Check with teachers and librarians to confirm the appropriate reading level for your child's age. Get recommendations from them on good age-appropriate books.

10. Research and select books about your children's interests, such as a sport or hobby.

11. Read newspapers and magazines with your children. Reading and telling stories together spark the imagination and helps stimulate good reading and writing skills.

12. Lastly, set up or designate shelves in a child's room for his or her own library.

The Internet can also provide many opportunities for children looking for new and exciting things to read. A free interactive, reading motivation program created by Sylvan Learning-Book Adventure ( -allows students to choose their own books from more than 7,500 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem their accumulated points for small prizes. Book Adventure also offers teachers and parents resources and tips to help children develop a lifelong love of reading.

For additional tips on instilling the joy of reading and making learning a fun family endeavor, visit the "Parent Resources" area of For more information about Sylvan, call 1-800-31-SUCCESS or visit

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