READINGTOBABY

Reading to child has perks for parents

PHOTO: Reading to young children is good for them and their parents.  | ROSS D. FRANKLIN~AP

The Chicago Public Library kicked off a new campaign,  “Take 20, Read Plenty,” to promote how important reading to children — just 20 minutes a day — is to them between birth and age 5.

The campaign is asking folks to take a pledge that they’ll read at least 20 minutes a day to a child.

One of the plusses of reading is that it helps strengthen the pathways to neurons, the chief components of the body’s nervous system (which includes the brain). And by reading, you up the number of words in a child’s arsenal, a good thing because the more words a little one knows, the more likely he or she is going to do well in school.

Sure, those are good, solid reasons to make reading to a child a priority.

But here are a few other reasons parents should pick up a book and start reading to even the tiniest of babies. It will so ease the life of you, the parent. Take it from an old parent who knows. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

Use reading as a nighttime ritual and you will have a child programmed to go to sleep. The light from electronics keep kids (and adults) revved up, while reading a book calms them down and makes sleep inevitable for children (and most likely the adults doing the reading).

Does it look like a tantrum is starting? Pick up your child’s favorite book and start reading. Don’t call him or her over to you; just start reading. The action itself will just surprise a child and make him or her forget a tantrum was in progress. Those well-loved favorite words will calm your little one down almost immediately. Just sit there quietly reading, and before you know it, your child will be sitting next to you, wanting to look at the book.

Want your children to be well-behaved in school? Then get them used to sitting and reading with you. If you start reading to them from the very beginning of their lives, by the time they reach school, they will know that that is the time to sit quietly and listen as soon as the teacher opens a book. Forget about those silly DVD sets that promise your baby can read; giving them this lesson — knowing when to quiet down and pay attention — is what early childhood educators wish all children knew how to do.

Twenty minutes goes by quickly. Give it a try.