“Yes, D.E.A.R.!”

A parent once asked me, “How do I show my child that we value reading at home?” That got me thinking. Here is my advice: Whenever your child asks you to read a book to him or her, you should remember the phrase, “Yes, DEAR,” which is an acronym to remind you to Drop Everything And Read! This means:

• STOP doing the dishes, wipe your hands on a towel, hop on the couch and read. The dishes will still be there after you’re done with the story. The story probably will not take you very long to read anyway.

• Turn off the TV and computer so that you can enjoy the book together.

• Take turns reading passages.

• Have your child use funny voices for the different characters’ dialogue.

• Have fun. By dropping your current activity to read, not only are you saying that reading is important and fun, but you want to spend time with your child and give him or her your undivided attention.

Young children like having their parents read to them because it’s a time to be close, snuggling together on the couch, and spending quality time together. Another way to show your child that you value reading is to plan an outing to the book store or library and browse books together. Look at picture books, grab a pile of “possible purchases” or “possible check-outs,” go to a table, sit down, and read a bit of each one.

When our children see us pouring over books and devoting time to them, they know we value reading. Finally, one of the best ways to let your child know that you value reading is by taking time to read for yourself. Don’t just reserve your personal reading time for when your child is asleep; sometimes you need to drop everything to let your child see you reading. Having positive images of adults enjoying reading is a strong influence on whether children become adults who read.

This was written by Lori Calderon, Tuxedo Park School’s Endowed Chair of English.