Literacy is an important part of any child’s education. Brenda Changkit, a kindergarten teacher who has worked with Behind the Book for five years, believes “the earlier, the better” when it comes to exposing kids to books.
“I believe even in the womb kids are able to hear,” she said. “So even with my own children I read to them before they were born. More so with my second son – he has such a love for reading and books now.”
While all parents may agree that reading is essential for their children, not all parents are able to provide the resources that a young mind requires. Changkit sees the effect of this first hand in some of her own students.
“I notice that students who aren’t exposed to a wide variety of reading early on have a challenge with comprehension,” she said.
Changkit suggests parents find websites that provide free reading material, and if access to the internet is an issue then going to the library is also helpful. Our Executive Director agrees, underlining the point that variety in materials is the best way to keep young children engaged in reading.
“I also tell parents to have as many outdoor experiences as they can.” Changkit said. Take them to the Botanical Gardens or even a park.”
Early Literacy is a city-wide focus – one of Mayor DeBlasio’s most successful initiatives was establishing Universal Free Pre-K in New York. And elementary schools are getting more resources. Changkit’s school, for example, provides an online reading program called Raz-Kids for their students. The program allows students access to reading material that corresponds with each student’s reading level.
Behind the Book is growing our programs that promote early literacy. In addition to early elementary school programs like Ms. Changkit’s class, we’re developing more partnerships with Head Start programs in the city. Because we get to work with faces like these: