Media Release submitted by Bill Eekhof
Lift a page from the past by taking a novel approach to your holiday gift-giving for children this year.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit encourages parents and caregivers to include a book under the tree for children. While they may seem old-fashioned compared to modern tech toys, devices and electronic games, books are a great gift to give this holiday season.
“Books can open up new chapters for children and their parents,” says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Reading together allows family members to bond together, explore new literary worlds and acquire a love of language. Books are valuable because they can support a child’s communication skills that are critical for future success at school and in life.”
As children grow, “their brains are like sponges,” which means they are constantly learning from what goes on around them, she notes. Reading with children helps to stimulate speech and language skills, as adults help them learn new words and discuss their meanings. Visual attention, conversation skills and listening ability can also be improved, she adds.
“Take the cue from your child when reading,” Shaughnessy adds. “If children flip back and forth all over the book, be patient. It shows they enjoy the book and want to concentrate on the parts that especially appeal to them. Another word of advice: show interest and enthusiasm when reading to children so the words on the page have appeal and hold their attention.”
Finding an age-appropriate book for a child is the most important step in encouraging reading. Books with repetitive and rhyming text, as well as plenty of pictures and interactive features such as holes or flaps for lifting, can be a hit with older toddlers and preschoolers. For older children who are less inclined to read, choose a story with an exciting plot that will grab their attention and make them want to read.
Giving a gift certificate to a local bookstore for your child is another way to encourage reading. If children’s expectations this holiday season involve a high-tech gadget, parents might consider electronic book readers as an option. Alternately, a low-tech, no-cost idea may be a better fit. “Get your child a library card and open the door to a world of books, where new experiences await,” Shaughnessy adds.
To further support reading and child speech skills, local residents can visit the KidTalk website (www.kidtalk.on.ca) or call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003.