As part of our continuing series on the importance of reading aloud to children, we're pleased this week to interview children's book author, Susan E. Crites. Her first book is I Love You More Than Rainbows, which won a Mom's Choice Golden Seal Award.
Why do you believe reading aloud to children is important?
SC: As a child, each night at bedtime, my parents would read to my sisters and me. We picked a book and we'd settle under the covers as we were drawn into the world of the book being read. As I got older and started to babysit as well as take care of my nephews and nieces, I discovered the joy and importance of reading to children from the reader's side in addition to the listener's side. Fun would be had, bonds grew deeper and conversations were inevitable as each page turned. We'd guess what would happen next or pose questions that may or may not need an answer, and at bedtime or nap time, a peacefulness settled in so that when the lights went out, the little one was decompressed from the day and ready to sleep. Those are just some of the rewards from reading aloud to children.
Reading aloud to children also allows them to learn listening and comprehension skills, teaches them how to sit still, shows them where their imagination can take them and creates a interest in reading on their own as they get older. They learn the words from a familiar book and "read it on their own," inevitably picking up words over time. Reading to a child is the foundation for their education and their ticket to success in life.
What are you doing to encourage reading books aloud to children?
SC: Whenever I'm with little ones, books come off of the shelves and into our laps. I read to them or they read to me and to see how proud they are to show off their new and improved skills is priceless. I give books as gifts on any occasion and to any age and encourage by example the joy of reading to little ones. One special way I get to do that is with my book, I Love You More Than Rainbows.
I visit schools, libraries, bookstores and other venues and love sharing story time with the kids. I always love to make reading fun by making the noises, expressing excitement in my voice and posing questions to involve the reader and help them learn while having fun. When reading my book, the kids are always surprised when I pull out a pink feather boa, a pink tiara or perhaps another accessory.
It starts us off on the right foot that reading is as fun as you make it. You can just read the words or you can become part of the story. I encourage the children to use their imaginations, especially in a time when so many sources of entertainment are electronics. Instead of the child creating the world of fun around them, the electronics tell the child the next thing to do to play.
While young children are usually happy to sit and listen to a story, they reach an age where their interest can decline. Reading can become a chore for them and the negative ripple effect begins. It affects every aspect of their school work and then school becomes a bore, etc. I always tell children I'm with that they just have to find something they're interested in to read about. Not everyone likes the same thing to read and how many times have we as adults picked up a book and put it away because it doesn't keep our interest? Children are no different. Boys tend to read less than girls, but I've learned most boys like non-fiction and shorter reads like a magazine article. If you find the right topic, they'll pick up a book and tell you all about it. I encourage parents, teachers and students to find what they like to read and enjoy the world they're drawn into by a book.
Why did you decide to get involved with Everybody Wins! and how have you worked together to promote reading to children?
SC: When I became aware of Everybody Wins! USA, I was thrilled to help spread the word of what they do and the beneficial results of their work. How can an author not love books and want to share that with others? Everybody Wins! USA was a great avenue to do that. I love to spread the word online via Facebook and Twitter and when I'm out and about, I tell folks about the organization, especially educators who are always looking for ways to get kids to read and get parents involved. When there's an opportunity for Everybody Wins! USA to get funding and exposure, I'm happy to get out there and get people involved.
What projects are you currently working on or have in development?
SC: In addition to promoting reading aloud to children, reading, writing and tapping the imagination, through school and library visits mostly, I continue to work on other manuscripts that hopefully will be published. With each book I write, I like to include a life lesson of some sort for both the reader and listener to absorb. Children learn with each new experience and if they're enjoying it, it's not a chore for them. My goal as an author is to make learning fun and to create an insatiable appetite for reading. I hope you'll get to see what I have up my sleeve!
Thanks Susan! To learn more about Susan's work, please visit www.susancrites.com