Reading is important for a number of reasons, for children who can't read they will struggle through their school lives. The problem goes far beyond school. Research shows that children who can't read are more likely to end up in the welfare system and 3 out of the 5 adults in the prison system in this country are illiterate. We talked with a research scientist and a local author about the importance of sitting down every day with your children and a good book.
Beckie Tau from Sioux Falls is now officially a published author and illustrator. The Little Ele-Funny is the first in what will be a series of children's books featuring Animals with Attitude. Beckie wanted to share her love for reading and writing with some of the children being treated at Avera Behavioral Health.
Beckie says, "Absolutely and I think they can relate to the characters and learn that what they are feeling is okay, it's normal and they aren't alone and maybe this can help with how and what they encounter in their lives."
Beckie wanted her books to also teach little life lessons, but scientists with the Avera Research Institute say what parents need to learn is the role reading plays in their child's development. It's never too early to start either.
Brad Uhing with the Avera Research Institute says, "The when and where isn't as important as what you should do when you are reading with them. Parents who are reading to their 6 month old and children one, two, three, four year olds need to practice dialogic reading. That's when you are talking to the child about the story not just reading with the child. You ask questions and let the child answer and expand on those ideas."
Children in those formative early years from preschool to kindergarten to 1st and 2nd grade are learning to read. Uhing says by the time they get to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade they are reading to learn and if they are behind in their reading skills the rest of their school career could be an uphill battle.
Uhing says, "Some studies show that children reading in those infant years do much better on intelligence tests and achievement tests. Can I say they are smarter? Well, you are born with intelligence but reading helps you academically."
While Elle the elephant and Beckie are teaching their listening audience that it's not nice to laugh at others just because they're different, Beckie is also subliminally teaching these children how a good book can make for a great experience when it's shared.
The experts say the more books you can get your hands on the better off your kids will be. It's easy to do that by visiting your local library. Residents in Minnehaha County (with exception to those in Dell Rapids) can get a free library card to any of the Siouxland libraries.
To find out more about Beckie Tau and her book series go to www.animalswithattitude.net