Parents today have access to an unprecedented amount of information. In an effort to stimulate thinking about literacy and our children, and to help parents make informed decisions, we have searched many sources and compiled some thought-provoking tidbits and research here.
“Children who read above the expected level for their age are more likely to have books of their own.” (J. Douglas, National Literacy Trust) As parents and educators, we strive to provide even the youngest child with enriching experiences and learning opportunities. Giving children books of their own is an easy and powerful way to celebrate their growing minds and prepare them for later school success.
“Children who have lived in book-filled homes prior to going to school are known to be scholastically advantaged for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. And children who have memorised 8 nursery rhymes by the age of 3, so I have been told, are always the BEST readers by the age of 8.” (Mem Fox)
"There are two major predictors of later reading: how much a child is spoken to and how often the child is read to." ~ M. Wolf
Were you read to as a child? If so, the names Ramona, Corduroy, Amelia, Harold, Madeline, Winnie, Peter, Max, Harry, Alice, Charlotte or Charlie may have felt like more than characters to you; they may have felt like friends. Characters in books not only provide a kind of friendship, but also expose young children to valuable lessons in perspective and problem solving. Does your child have a favorite literary friend?
“Our preschool is competitive. We have a very skewed academic population here. These are children whose parents have read to them since they were infants.” H.C. Preschool Headmaster: explaining why she believes the children in her charge have an academic advantage before even entering school.
“Children who have been read to several times a day as a young child, did SUBSTANTIALLY better in kindergarten than youngsters whose parents read to them a few times a week or less often.” (T. Doherty) Regardless of your child’s innate strengths or weaknesses, reading every day is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to stimulate a growing mind and prepare for later school success.
"Reading aloud to children is one of the most effective and inexpensive activities parents, caregivers and educators can do to promote literacy. Children who are introduced to books early and read to on a regular basis DO BETTER IN SCHOOL." (S. Herb - Building Blocks For Literacy)
Consider this urban myth: Some states factor in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade when determining the number of prison beds they will need. Though not subsantiated, urban myths are usually based in fear or truth.
“Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children's books actually contain 50% MORE rare words than primetime television or even college students' conversations.” - reachoutandread.com
‘In a class of 20 students, few, if any, teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with EACH student.’ (Adams '02) It is especially important that parents and other caregivers read to their little one's early and often so that children experience important group reading at school, and vital one on one reading time at home.
“Nobody expects a two-year-old child to read a book on his or her own. Now, of course, many two-year-old children might look through books on their own, or even pretend to read them on their own. But, if you have a new book, the adult has to be there to help the child understand the book. The book creates a platform on which the conversation takes place. [The adult is there to] interpret, to name the pictures, to describe the action, to explain what’s going on. This is one of the reasons why research shows that families in which children are READ TO REGULARLY are families whose children are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn, with bigger vocabularies and greater capacity to participate effectively in classrooms. [It’s] because they’ve had this kind of focused conversation with adults.” Catherine Snow/Ellen Galinsky
"It is heartbreaking to think of 5 year olds failing in school from the moment they start, but that is the reality for many of our children." (E. Balthazar & B. Strama) What will you read with your little one today to foster a love of books and ensure later school success?
“Look, learning to read is hard. Sure, a few children learn to read on their own, but for most, it’s a lot of work – from Kindergarten on. Learning sight words, sounds, rules, rule breakers, word families, or thinking about comprehension, characters and plot - it’s a student’s full time job. Learning to read can be enlightening when a child is ready, but it can also be tedious, for everyone involved. There might be tears, and frustration, and a lot of hand-holding, but if your son or daughter is one who already loves books, half the battle is already won.”
~ Parent to RWITAP
"Believe it or not, by the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk. Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby's brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.
When reading, your child hears you using many different emotions and expressive sounds, which fosters social and emotional development. Reading also invites your baby to look, point, touch, and answer questions — all of which promote social development and thinking skills. And your baby improves language skills by imitating sounds, recognizing pictures, and learning words.
But perhaps the most important reason to read aloud is that it makes a connection between the things your baby loves the most — your voice and closeness to you — and books. Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is a skill worth learning."