Reading creates a strong foundation for a child’s lifelong success—particularly during the first five years of their lives. Children who have the most opportunity to interact with language—from infancy to early elementary school—are the most likely to develop into skilled readers and writers for the rest of their lives.
Although you’ve probably heard about the importance of reading and literacy in young children, one important distinction that we talk about here at One Place is why reading with—instead of to—your child matters.
One of the most important acts you can do for your child is to model the behavior—and that applies to reading! If you want your child to read—and yet never model the behavior for your child—it will create tension and difficulties down the road.
Whether you’re a lifelong reader or not, create space and opportunity to read daily or at least a few times a week. When you model the behavior you expect of your child, they will begin to understand that reading is an enjoyable activity they can continue as they grow up.
Instead of mindlessly reading a book to your child each night—and checking one task off your to-do list—we encourage parents to embody a new mindset: Reading with your child.
All that means is making it an interactive and exploratory activity. As you move throughout the pages, periodically pause to ask your child open-ended questions and give them time and space to share their thoughts.
A few sample questions might include:
It’s easy to get into the habit of reading to your child at the same time every day—but to encourage engagement, incorporate reading into different parts of your day. You can read a short story over breakfast or when your child returns home from child care.
While it’s great to choose books that reflect your child’s reality, it’s also important to read a diverse selection of books—especially those that center characters of different ethnicities, experiences, and childhoods.
Research in neuroscience suggests that reading fiction can help people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking skills. When your child is exposed to characters with different life experiences, they’ll become better at understanding other people—and being able to find connections and shared experiences between one another.
One Place offers a number of fantastic early literacy programs for children in Onslow County. By incorporating reading into your child’s life, they will reap the benefits: Greater language comprehension, a larger vocabulary, and better problem-solving skills.
Our early literacy and learning programs include:
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book-gifting program for children from birth to age 5. Each month, you’ll receive a new, high-quality, and age-appropriate book mailed to your home.
To sign up: Text “Books” to (910) 333-0608 and you’ll receive a registration link, or register online here.
Story Walks at the Park: We collaborate with Onslow County Parks and Recreation to offer five Story Walks at the Park—where children and parents can enjoy pages of children’s books mounted on posts throughout the park. This provides early literacy and physical activity in a natural learning environment. Each park features a different story each month.
Visit them here:
Onslow Pines Park – 1244 Onslow Pines Rd, Jacksonville, NC 28540
Hubert By-Pass Park – 220 Hubert Blvd, Hubert, NC 28539
Deppe Park – 5472 New Bern Hwy, Maysville, NC 28555
Steed Park – 278 Francktown Rd, Richlands, NC 28574
Stump Sound – 1771 NC-172, Sneads Ferry, NC 28460
Little Free Libraries
One Place maintains more than 60 Little Free Libraries throughout Onslow County, making it seamless to access free books. We encourage readers of all ages to “Take a book, return a book.”
Community Book Drives
For more than 20 years, One Place has coordinated an annual book drive collaborating with local businesses to collect and distribute more than 125,000 books.
You can drop off gently-used books at 900 Dennis Road, Jacksonville, NC.