There are few words you can say to your child that are more important than simply saying, “I love you.” With these three words you can bring a smile to a face, warmth to a heart, and joy to your child. Saying “I love you” gives you a chance to change the course of an entire day, and the power to imprint love and security in your child’s heart forever!
Saying “I love you,” or other words that show you care, gives your children the confidence and strong self-esteem that is the foundation of good emotional health. They will learn how to ask for what they need, express how they feel, and respond to others with compassion. You can give your children positive words in your everyday family life by talking, writing, and reading. Here are some ideas to try at home:
Talk. There are so many words that say, “I love you.” Hearing these nurturing words lets your children know that they are important, they are cared for, and they are loved. When said with a snuggle or a hug, these words mean even more! You can say: I am so happy you are _____ (my son/ my daughter/ part of our family)! • I love to watch you _______ (play, draw, hear you sing, see you run, etc.) • You are so smart in so many ways. • It is okay to make mistakes. • I know you can do it! You did it! I love how you did that! • There is no one like you in the whole world! • You make me smile.
Write. “I love you” messages can bring happiness to your child over and over again when you write them down. • Tuck an “I love you” note under your child’s pillow. • Pin one to a backpack. • Write a message with soap on the mirror. • Keep a jar of “I love you” messages to use any time. • Make mailboxes out of empty cereal boxes for each person in your family to send messages back and forth. • Help your child write down an “I love you” message to a friend or loved one.
Read. Snuggle up with your child and read one of these picture books about love and kindness and talk about what happens in the story. • “How Kind!” by Mary Murphy • “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney • “I Love You Little One” by Nancy Tafuri • “All Together Now” by Anita Jeram • “I’ll Always Love You” by Paeony Lewis • “Because of You” by B.G. Hennesy.
Giving your child words of love has a huge impact. In the words of Peggy O’Mara, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” For more ideas, download a Words of Love bookmark at www.familyreading.org.
Filed under family reading, Feelings, love
Tagged as books, children's books, family, Family Reading Partnership, I love you, Katrina Morse, love, picture books, words
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced recently that it is asking its 62,000 members across the country to be advocates for reading aloud to children. Along with the usual attention to healthy physical child development, the AAP is now recommending, for the first time, that pediatricians inform parents about early literacy education. Families will hear from their doctors that the words children learn early on are critical for later success in talking, communicating, and eventually independent reading.
In the first 3 years of a child’s life his or her brain is growing faster than it ever will again and children thrive on hearing words as others talk, sing, and read aloud. Studies have shown that there is a “word gap” that is evident as early as 18 months between babies who hear an abundance of words in everyday life and those who don’t.
Thankfully, every family in our own community has been given this message from their child’s doctor since 2002, when Family Reading Partnership’s “Books to Grow On” program was launched. Children have been receiving a brand new book at 6 different child-well visits before the age of 4 and have come to expect that a visit to the doctor means a book to take home. The books gain value as they come as gifts from trusted medical professionals.
Each book in the “Books to Grow On” program is chosen especially for the age of the child who will be taking it home so that families have the best possible read-aloud experience. This summer 2 more books will be added to the “Books to Grow On” library so families will be getting 8 books in their child’s first 4 years. New books titles are also replacing old favorites at the 12 offices in Tompkins County, NY that see children, so in the coming year families will receive these beautiful new books at well-visits:
- 2 months: “Baby Cakes” by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Sam Williams. Rhyming words give parents love language to talk to their baby.
- 4 months: “Moo, Baa, La, La, La!” by Sandra Boynton. These silly animals noises are just the kind of sounds a baby is beginning to say as he practices vocalizing.
- 6 months: “Clap Hands” by Helen Oxenbury. A short story with pictures showing babies doing baby things like clapping, eating, and waving.
- 12 months: “Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by Daniel Kirk. From sun up to sun down a toy train picks up all the other toys in the playroom with a “wooo, wooo!”
- 18 months: “I Can Do It Too!” by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. As a toddler becomes more independent, she can help out the grown-ups with every day fun.
- 2 years: “Roadwork” by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock. All kinds of vehicles and what they do to make a new road.
- 3 years: “And Here’s to You!” by David Elliot, illustrated by Randy Cecil. Colorful, whimsical pictures of people, plants, and animals around the world with words of gratitude for all of life.
- 4 years: “My Village: rhymes from around the world” collected by Danielle Wright, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi. Poems written in English and the native languages of many peoples in many countries show how children are fun-loving no matter where they are from.
When pediatricians give a prescription to parents to read to their young child, doctors are looking at the wellness of the whole child, not just their physical well being. Giving young children lots of words and loving attention gives them the emotional and cognitive foundation to have the best start in life!
When you know how to read, you take for granted all the ways that reading enriches your life. I was thinking about his as I read the ingredients on a box of cereal at the grocery store. Because I can read, I knew what was in that box and could make a good choice about whether that cereal was healthy for me or not.
In one day alone, I found that I read so many things I could hardly count them. I read street signs that told me about a road detour. I read the specials at the bagel shop so I knew what to order and how much to pay. At work I read articles and emails and learned more. At home I read a recipe in a cookbook and made peanut butter cookies. I read my latest novel and was introduced to ideas that got me thinking in new directions. I read a card I got in the mail and found out what my friend in another state was doing. I read jokes, news updates, and played a word game online.
Snuggle up and read aloud to the young child in your life and you’ll be passing down your love of books and reading, and showing how important it is to know how to read. Here are some books to read together that show how words are used every day.
“The Signmaker’s Assistant” by Tedd Arnold. When the signmaker goes away, his young assistant makes new signs for the town and sees first hand how powerful words are. What signs would you change in your neighborhood? Use your imagination.
“Like Me and You” by Raffi, illustrated by Lillian Hoban. Although the words to this song don’t mention how words are used to write letters, the illustrations depict children from around the world writing, sending, and reading airmail letters to and from distant places on the globe.
“Scranimals: Poems by Jack Prelutsky” illustrated by Peter Sis. Say the name of an animal and you’ll see in your mind what it looks like. But what if the name was all scrambled up? What would a rhincerose or a broccolion look like? Make up your own silly word combinations!
“Many Luscious Lollypops” by Ruth Heller. Everything changes when you add adjectives to them. Try it out for yourself. How does a slow, purple snail act differently than a quick, orange snail?
Filed under children's books, family reading
Tagged as books, children, children's books, family, Family Reading Partnership, Katrina Morse, picture books, read-aloud, reading, words