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Missourians Encouraged to Make Reading a Family Affair

PHOTO: Educators say it's never to soon to begin reading to a child, and they encourage Missouri families to make reading a priority during "March is Reading Month." Photo credit: Karpati Gabor on morguefile.com.
PHOTO: Educators say it's never to soon to begin reading to a child, and they encourage Missouri families to make reading a priority during "March is Reading Month." Photo credit: Karpati Gabor on morguefile.com.
March 19, 2014

ST. LOUIS - March is Reading Month, and educators and librarians across the state hope Missouri families will take this opportunity to help children spring into a lifelong reading habit.

Julie Douglas, family program director for the Missouri Humanities Council, said reading ideally should be a family affair that is enjoyable for both caregivers and children.

"Reading to children when they're babies and toddlers and preschoolers really sets the stage for all the learning that the child is going to do in school," she said, "but unfortunately, a lot of parents don't know that or don't feel like they're equipped to do it."

In today's world of electronic distractions, Douglas said, it's all the more important to help kids get back to basics. She pointed to studies that show too much "screen time" can slow down learning for young children.

"We really want to encourage parents to just get back the real simple, old-fashioned idea of sitting down with a child on their lap and telling a story or reading a book or looking at the pictures in a book," she said.

Because access to books can be an issue, Douglas said March is a good time to plan a family trip to the local library.

She said people may not have grown up in homes full of books or didn't have the experience of being read to by their parents. Programs such as "Read from the Start" - with free workshops for families of kids under age 5 - help educate the entire family about the joys of reading, she said.

More information on "Read From the Start" is on the Missouri Humanities Council's website, mohumanities.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO