April 2nd 2013

On your lap

Parents are often on the look-out for just the right toys to buy, or the latest technology to give their children an extra boost.  By focusing their energy on purchases, some parents miss giving their children the most important advantage. The best resource for successful learning is in your lap. By picking up a book and putting your child in your lap, even a baby, to look at pictures in a book, you have started your child on a lifetime of learning and literacy. Just hugging, talking, and laughing together as you look at books creates a warm nurturing environment where learning grows.

The research is clear: Children raised in homes that promote family literacy grow up to be better readers and do better in school than children raised in homes without books. The National Center for Educational statistics states, ““…students who read for pleasure every day scored almost 10 percent higher on proficiency tests than those children who don’t.”

Too many of our children start school without ever seeing a book.  They are at a distinct disadvantage on the first day of kindergarten and statistics reveal that many of them never catch up.

We, the reading public of Dona Ana County, can change that future. Children’s Reading Foundation-DAC introduces the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Imagination Library provides books to children between the ages of one month and five years old.

Once a child has been registered, an age appropriate book of literary merit will begin arriving in the mail each month.  Babies receive sturdy books with large bright pictures. One–year-olds’ books feature repetition and predictability, familiar things, colors, numbers. As children grow, their stories deal with feelings and emotions, rhymes and poems, humor. Later, their books include subjects of more complexity, diversity, heroes, folktales, non-fiction, and science.

Making books available in all homes provides a common early childhood experience that increases the potential for all children. Families reading together at home can eliminate barriers to success that exist in our community. Encouraging family reading promotes healthy relationships between children and their parents. Las Cruces educator, Rhonda Karol, is coordinating Imagination Library of Dona Ana County. Thanks to contributions made by Sunspot Solar, Wellspring Church and individual donors, Karol has started registering children.

Karol has volunteered to take on this responsibility. She believes that books in the home will level the playing field for children whose own parents may have had trouble relating to school. According to Karol, “Books in the home provide greater communication between parents and children. Families have new opportunities for storytelling. Reading together develops an appreciation for the printed word, and models different rhythms of speech for children in a safe and loving environment.

There is an easy way to become part of this remarkable program. A contribution of $28 will sponsor one child for a year.  Does creating literate children fit the goals of your organization, or business? Is there a particular neighborhood that would benefit from your sponsorship? All funds collected locally are used for the children of our community only. The cost of sending twelve books to a child over the course of one year is $28.

Visit our webpage, or contact Rhonda Karol through this column and become part of the Imagination Library today.

Next month the Reading Solution will look at the remarkable way parents of preschoolers and teachers at three elementary schools are getting their children ready for kindergarten.