Doors to adventure

Think About It

November 25, 1998

Susan Rapp, director of the Columbia West Kumon Center, offers some thoughts on "great books."

In my practice of teaching reading to children of all ages over the years, one of the enduring pleasures has been to hear one of my students gleefully comment, "Gee, that was a great book!"

Without question, in today's print-rich society, reading skills are essential for success. Yet, ultimately, as parents and teachers we would like to see our children truly enjoy reading as well.

Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim proclaimed in his text "On Learning to Read": "What is required for a child to be eager to learn to read is not knowledge about reading's practical usefulness, but a fervent belief that being able to read will open to him a world of wonderful experiences, permit him to shed his ignorance, understand the world, and become master of his fate."

Indeed, it was that belief and trust that allowed my student to read a book that I recommended, even though he did not understand, at that moment, what a pleasurable experience it would be.

While most children will eventually learn to read, how much your child chooses to read independently will depend greatly upon his or her own attitude and interest.

By surrounding your child with reading material that interests him or her, parents can begin to set an example and develop enthusiasm for print.

As adults we enjoy reading books we choose, and children deserve the same courtesy. We will also read books recommended by someone we trust and respect, and it is important to gain that trust in your child.

While on vacation recently, my husband bought "The Yogi Book" by famed baseball MVP Yogi Berra. Using the line, "Hey, listen to this!", he read a few anecdotes aloud to us. I noticed that some time later, this prompted each of my sons to reach for this book on his own during "down time."

Parents truly play an important role in enhancing their child's learning-to-read process. Every book you introduce, every piece of paper and writing tool you provide, the interests you respond to and the stories you tell are all crucial elements of this exciting reading adventure.

Pub Date: 11/25/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.