Rabbi Kassel Abelson once said, "The Hebrew word for parent is horim and it comes from the same root as moreh, teacher. The parent is the first and most important teacher that the child will have."
Brooklyn parent Claudia Aristy reflects the phenomenal dedication many American parents have.
One of the best gifts she gave her children was the gift of reading. While a full-time student at Hunter College, she read to her children whenever time allowed, at home or on the train. She currently encourages other young mothers to read as the Bilingual Parent Educator at Bellevue Hospital's Pediatric Clinic in Manhattan.
I was honored that Ms. Aristy took time to share the benefits of reading and parental advice.
Earl: When you were a young mother, what were some of the benefits of reading to your child?
Claudia: As a young mother going to school full-time, reading to my son provided me with the chance to bond with him -- while riding on the train together or before bedtime. It became our special time together to cuddle up and enjoy each other. By the time my son started school, his bookshelf was full to the brim and he excelled in reading. He would proudly tell his teacher, "I have that book at home!"
Earl: What advice would you give to young parents regarding reading to their children?
Claudia: In my everyday work as a Reach Out and Read Parent Educator in Bellevue Hospital's Pediatric Clinic, I find myself giving three simple messages:
1) Start reading to your children when they are babies so that they grow up having wonderful memories of sharing books and reading with you.
2) Reading together every day, even if you only have a few minutes, can make a huge difference.
3) If you do not feel comfortable reading, you can still have fun together. Tell a story by just describing the pictures.
Earl: What is your favorite children's book?
Claudia: One of my favorite children's books is "Handa's Surprise" by Eileen Browne. I love the beautiful language used to describe the fruits. The amazing illustrations add details to the story that are not described by the words. Books like this are perfect to engage children in very interactive conversations that promote language development while at the same time having fun.
In light of our educational aspirations for children and the current early literacy crisis, it's important that we recognize committed parents and outstanding community educators like Claudia Aristy.