Are you aware of United Way GWP’s Blue Bookshelf Program? It is something we are very proud of and a big part of our Education Focus. We have books and shelves ready to go-but need places to place them. But why are we so interested in books for children? Why do we care that all children have access to lots and lots of books?
At United Way GWP, we know how important it is to encourage kids to read. Now, there's science to support our efforts to fill local homes with as many books as possible.
A recent study published in the journal Social Science Research, found that raising a child in a home filled with books positively impacts their academic growth and job success. Specifically, the study found that when it comes to standardized tests, each book added to a home library helps children do better.
A home filled with books encourages a culture of reading for fun and talking about what children see and hear when sharing books with adults.
So, how many books are we talking about? The study shows literacy levels increase dramatically at 80 books. Being surrounded by lots and lots of books where they live helps children:
- build vocabulary
- increase awareness and comprehension
- expand their horizons
All of this benefits them in adulthood. The study's authors also found a strong connection between homes filled of books and the following skills:
- the ability to use mathematical concepts in everyday life
- the ability to use digital technology to communicate with others
Books in the home make a difference beyond literacy.
Choosing which books are right for kids can be a little overwhelming. Here are four tips from Scholastic Books, to help you choose books your kids will love and that will keep the whole family reading from the day you bring home your new baby into their teen years.
1.) Share Books You Loved as a Child
Nothing models a love of reading better than your enthusiasm when sharing a book you loved from your own childhood. I’m dating myself here but I always loved when my mom read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey . I also enjoyed reading aloud to my younger siblings from any Dr Suess book. My own children loved The Knapping House by Don and Audrey Wood.
Think back to those stories that a parent, grandparent or a favorite teacher read to you when you were a child.
2.) Find Books That Match Your Child's Interests
Connecting kids with books they will love is one of the most fun challenges we have as parents of emerging readers and is so important in creating life-long readers. Think about topics your child enjoys or may even be obsessed with. It could be anything from garbage trucks (a favorite of my grandsons) to zoo animals. Chances are, you can find a book about it.
3.) Diversify your Bookshelves
A child may have a keen interest in a certain topic but aim for variety. Find books that kids can see themselves in, as well as books that will help them discover people and cultures around the world. Include a variety of genres of material including fiction and non-fiction, mysteries and graphic novels too.
4.) Give Books to Celebrate Milestones and Accomplishments
Remember those moments in life such as turning double digits, winning a contest, or graduating from elementary school. Chances are you remember the people who celebrated with you or a special meal you shared. Why not link a specially chosen book to the memory? Then, when kids recall their memories about these events they will also connect a meaningful book to that time.
United Way’s Blue Bookshelf Program ensures that all children can have books at home with no cost to parents who cannot afford to purchase those books. If your group is interested in sponsoring a Blue Bookshelf in your community, give us a call! We have shelves ready to go!