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Education

How to start your child off with good books read well

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota is soon to be off-limits to drone flights.
NPR

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

South Dakota's literary heritage is a renewable resource as one generation after another learns to love reading and writing. But teaching kids to read can be incredibly difficult. SDPB education specialist Kevin Nelson believes nearly every child can become a reader.

As part of our SDPB Spotlight on the state's literary heritage, Nelson joins us with tips on how to raise a reader.

Key Takeaways from Kevin Nelson:

Children learn best when their world is stable. Remember the needs of the whole child: sleep, food, water, play. When a child's life is in balance, they are ready to start to learn to read.

Reading with learners should never be drudgery. Find books and stories that match your child's interest. Look for funny, smart, and dynamic stories, and use reading time together as a time to connect and create memories. (See Lori's book suggestions at the bottom of this story.)

Talk to your early learner. We learn to speak by listening to others talk, which later enhances our ability to read. Tell jokes and family stories. Talk about the weather, make up bedtime stories, tell your child about your day.

Give your early learner more control. As a child begins to understand the process of reading, let them take the lead more and more. Let them turn the pages or hold the book. Let them read to you if they can (model paying attention to the story). Enjoy the reading journey!

Book suggestions from In the Moment host Lori Walsh:

As a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, kid lit is my passion. I've done a fair amount of reading in classrooms and at home, and a few read-aloud picture books that serve as my go-to crowd pleasers. If you're looking for a delightful book to read with your children, may I humbly suggest the following:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
This one never fails to get a giggle. Mr. Tiger lives in a city filled with proper animals wearing human clothing. He longs to break free and be go COMPLETELY WILD, which, naturally involves him ditching his clothes and embracing his full tiger-ness. He goes wild, he gets lonely, an he discovers how to be his authentic self while still embracing community.

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson
A great South Dakota choice as a farmer makes his way across the farm, feeding the animals their favorite foods. Wilson excels at rhythm and rhyme, and the surprise at the end of the book celebrates farm life, humor, and a good afternoon treat.

Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett
A book of kindness and abundance, Barnett's gentle and humorous tale is a bit longer of a read, but reliably enchanting. A girl finds a magic box with an unlimited supply of yarn, which she uses to bring color and warmth to her community. Of course someone else wants to steal her treasure, but failure to understand the magic leaves interlopers empty handed.

SDPB and PBS are America's largest classrooms. Learn more about the SDPB Early Learning Initiative (ELI) at SDPB.org/ELI.