Now look at this example of parents being mentors. As you read, think about these questions:
- Are these parents being thoughtful mentors?
- Are they being honest about themselves?
- Are they judging their child?
- Are the parents supporting the child’s interest or forcing the child to develop one?
- How might you handle a similar situation with your child?
LiMing, Yeung, and Chang (Age 3) 4
What’s the Story?
Reading is a big part of LiMing and Yeung’s lives. They both enjoy reading and do it as often as they can, usually reading at night instead of watching TV. When Chang was born, they asked their health care provider about reading to him. When should they start reading to him? When will he start to read on his own? What is the best way for them to help him learn to read? Now they try to read to Chang every night before he goes to sleep.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always liked to read. When Yeung and I got together, reading was one of the things we shared. It seemed only natural for us to extend our passion for reading to Chang.
I think Chang likes reading, too. He helps turn the pages, points to the pictures he recognizes, and chatters. He knows what is going to happen next and tells me when I’ve skipped something. He’s beginning to recognize the letters and their sounds. He has his favorite books and wants to hear them again and again.
What's the Point?
LiMing and Yeung have given a lot of thought to being Chang’s mentors. By reading to Chang, they introduced him to one of their interests. They encourage him to choose his own stories and to interact with them and with the book while they’re reading. As he gets older, Chang will know that his parents read a great deal. He may decide to join his parents in their hobby.
They may not know it, but LiMing and Yeung are also helping Chang build his reading skills. Studies show that, in the US, more than 50 percent of children are read to by a family member every day. 8 In these studies, family reading is related to better reading comprehension and greater school success. Reading to your child also improves his or her emergent literacy—the knowledge that the words printed in books have meaning. One of the key factors in emergent literacy is being able to recognize letters of the alphabet; other factors include knowing the sounds of letters at the beginning and end of words. Reading to your child improves these skills, which can improve your child’s chances for school success.