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Although the life of a parent is often hectic, you should try to read with your child at least once a day at a regularly scheduled time. But don't be discouraged if you skip a day or don't always keep to your schedule. Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.

If you have more than one child, try to spend some time reading alone with each child, especially if they're more than 2 years apart. However, it's also fine to read to children at different stages and ages at the same time. Most children enjoy listening to many types of stories. When stories are complex, children can still get the idea and can be encouraged to ask questions. When stories are easy or familiar, youngsters enjoy these "old friends" and may even help in the reading. Taking the time to read with your children on a regular basis sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile.

You may go through a period when your child favors one book and wants it read night after night. It is not unusual for children to favor a particular story, and this can be boring for parents. Keep in mind, however, that a favorite story may speak to your child's interests or emotional needs. Be patient. Continue to expose your children to a wealth of books and eventually they will be ready for more stories.

It's often a good idea to talk about a story you are reading, but you need not feel compelled to talk about every story. Good stories will encourage a love for reading, with or without conversation. And sometimes children need time to think about stories they have read. A day or so later, don't be surprised if your child mentions something from a story you've read together.

From time to time, invite other adults or older children to listen in or join in reading aloud. The message is: Reading is for everybody.

Children become readers when their parents read to them. It really is as simple as that. And here's the good news: It's easy to do and it's great fun. With a little practice you will be making the memories of a lifetime, memories both you and your child will cherish.

It is best to read to your child early and often. But it's never too late to begin. Start today. Although the activities in this section are designed to enhance reading aloud with preschoolers and beginning readers, a child is never too old to be read to.

With youngsters, remember that reading is a physical act, as well as a mental one. It involves hand-eye coordination. So, when you read, involve your child by:

* pointing out objects in the pictures

* following the words with your finger (so your child develops a sense that the words go from left to fight on the page)

* having your child help turn the pages (to lean that the pages turn from right to left)

Here are some more reading tips:

Ask friends, neighbors, and teachers to share the names of their favorite books.

Visit your local public library, and as early as possible, get your child a library card. Ask the librarian for help in selecting books.

Look for award-winning books. Each year the American Library Association selects children's books for the Caldecott Medal for illustration and the Newbery Medal for writing.

Check the book review sections of newspapers and magazines for recommended new children's books.

As soon as they're old enough, have your children join you in browsing for books and making selections.

If you and your child don't enjoy reading a particular book, put it aside and pick up another one.

Keep in mind your child's reading level and listening level are different. When you read easy books, beginning readers will soon be reading along with you. When you read more advanced books, you instill a love of stories, and you build motivation that transforms children into lifelong readers.