Early childhood initiatives and coalitions in our service area are working to promote the importance of literacy among the children of southwestern Minnesota. These organizations have held recent events to promote “Fathers Read Every Day,” though some groups are evolving the effort into “Families Read Every Day,” said Southwest Initiative Foundation Early Childhood Specialist Tari Niemeyer.
FRED is a nationally-recognized program used to promote literacy in children, Tari explains. “It’s a fun and interactive approach of involving families in reading and literacy development,” she said.
Murray County Early Childhood Initiative held a FRED event on Sat., Oct. 3 at the Lake Wilson Legion Hall. About 112 people attended the reading event, which featured Brent Mielke, the “Zoo Man,” an educator about reptiles.
“He was able to entertain the audience and then they did some reading together,” Tari said.
The Murray County Dairy Association provided a cheese stick snack for the kids, who each were able to take a book home.
Just two days later the Redwood Falls Early Childhood Initiative held a FRED event at the library in Redwood Falls. Typically FRED events focus on fathers being involved with reading activities, though this event was catered to families as a whole, Tari explained.
Mike Wohnoutka, author of “Moo,” interacted with the 26 adults and 23 kids who attended. They all watched the video “Moo” on a big screen, shared milk and cookies, participated in one-on-one family reading, and had a group reading of “Dad’s First Day,” also by Wohnoutka. Participants were able to enter a drawing for a poster of a cow driving a canoe car, one of the images in “Moo.”
Tari says literacy at home is important for child development. “Take a few minutes every day to read,” Tari says. “Kids enjoy that closeness, that coziness.”
What can you do to help the kids in your life become strong readers?
- Point out words in your everyday environment. Driving by a billboard or a street sign? Talk about the letters and words you see. You can do the same thing at a grocery store!
- Be OK with re-reading. The repetition is helpful to a child’s growing mind.
- Run your finger under the words as you read. This helps kids make the connection that the words on the page are connected to what you are saying.
- Read books yourself. Kids will learn from your example.
- Find books that relate to everyday life. Going to the doctor or dentist? Making a move to a new house? Your local library will likely have books related to these experiences.
- Go to the library. Encourage children to use the literary resources at their disposal.
Reading events throughout the region are listed on our online calendar of events, so check out what’s happening in your area!