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Reading to your child aids their development

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in our six-part feature defining The Palmetto Basics, which includes tips on easy, practical ways to bring them to life in your home.

Reading a book with a baby can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility – or at least a trial of a parent’s patience. But those minutes spent showing pictures and pointing to words as you read build a foundation that is critical for development and for school readiness. Reading really is fundamental.

Read and Discuss Stories is the fifth of five Palmetto Basics. The Palmetto Basics is a statewide campaign that gives parents, grandparents and caregivers the basics of early learning for children before birth to age 5, with an emphasis on birth – 3 years.

“It should be an enjoyable experience,” Karen Allen, Youth Services Manager for the Greenville County Library System, said. “Snuggle together. Make it a fun time.”

And don’t worry about finishing the book, especially when small children have even smaller attention spans.

“You just do it as long as they are interested,” Allen said. “Then do something else and come back. Read the pictures as well as the words. You can involve them in the story.”

Allen suggests parents and caregivers ask questions as they read and engage little ones in the book.

“There are so many things that come out of that simple little activity,” she said. “They learn language and vocabulary. The more words they know, the more it will help them when they do learn to read. It’s a building block for future success.”

Books are also the perfect way to help children wind down.

“Make it a regular experience, maybe before nap time and before bedtime read a book,” Allen said. “Pick simple books with bright colors. Little babies like books of faces. They love books with babies. Read with expression, not just monotone. And when they get sick of it, stop.”

A visit to the library helps children understand the importance of books, helps them learn what they like and it can help save money.

“Books are kind of expensive,” Allen said. “You can go through hundreds of our board books and then just buy the favorites.”

The Greenville County Library System has launched the Little Learners Club, a challenge designed especially for preschool children that encourages participation in Palmetto Basics-inspired activities. Pick up a Little Learners Club activity log at any Greenville County Library System location. The activity log is used to track participation in the suggested activities. There is no rush to finish – just complete the challenge by kindergarten. And then, bring the log into any GCLS location to pick up prizes (a Little Learners Club bag and five buttons) one representing each of the Palmetto Basics.

Allen said the club provides 100 activities for each of the first four Palmetto Basics and 600 activities for Read and Discuss Stories.

“It’s a thousand learning moments,” she said.


Learn more about the Little Learners Club at little-learners-club.

Learn more about Read and Discuss Stories and get age-appropriate tips at