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Creating a Good Reading Environment

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Parents know that children's learning doesn't have to stop at the end of the school day. One way to keep children learning outside of school is to get them interested in reading, and having a good reading environment is an important step in this process. Below are a few simple things parents can do to create the optimal reading environment in their home:

1. Make a place for reading.
Set aside a place in your home for a family library. You don't need much space; a corner of a room with a bookshelf, comfortable furniture, and adequate lighting are all that's needed.

2. Make a variety of reading material available.
Always have a good supply of various reading material on hand. In addition to paperback and hardcover books, include newspapers, magazines for parents and kids, songbooks, catalogs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and an atlas. It doesn't matter if the material is owned or borrowed, or new or used. Just make sure your family's library includes something for everyone at every reading level.

3. Eliminate distractions.
Despite what many people believe, a noisy and busy environment doesn't help one concentrate. Create a place where your family members can go to read without the distractions caused by television, radio, computers, or video games. If dedicating a separate place is not possible, pick a time during the week for family members to enjoy some quiet time reading.

4. Set an example.
Let you children see you reading books, newspapers, and magazines on a regular basis. If they see you reading daily -both for function and for pleasure - they will more likely become readers themselves. When children see their parents going to libraries and checking out books, buying books, and giving and receiving books as gifts, they know that their parents place a high value on reading. And they will too.

5. Have adequate lighting.
Either extreme-too much light or too little- can cause eye strain and fatigue, and lower one's reading efficiency. Your child should be able to see what s/he is reading without strain. If there is adequate lighting, and your child is constantly experiencing fatigue when reading or studying, s/he may need corrective lenses.

6. Keep room temperature at a comfortable level.
Stuffy and warm rooms put people to sleep, even over the most exciting and interesting books. The room where you and your family read should have plenty of fresh air and have a fairly cool temperature.

7. Establish personal libraries.
Children often want their own place to keep their books. Here are some tips for helping children set up collections: find a special place for books. If your child's room doesn't have a bookshelf or bookcase, use a box, basket, or some other container; let your children choose the books they want to add to their collection whenever possible. A weekend book-buying trip to a bookstore would be a fun ritual; take your children to the library regularly. Even a child with a well-stocked bookshelf needs a fresh supply of books. Encourage children to treat library books with the same care they show their own; and give your children books or magazine subscriptions as gifts.

Creating a good home reading environment doesn't have to be expensive. Just put a few things together and happy reading!


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