Reading aloud to children is “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for reading success.”
Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report on the Commission on Reading
What gift can 30 minutes a day give you? Television ads promise tighter abs or the perfect body in 30 minutes a day. 30 minutes a day of reading aloud to your child promises to have a lasting impact on your child’s literacy and reading skills. During the first three years of life, a child’s brain grows 90% of their eventual adult weight. When parents talk, sing, and read to their child, links among brain cells are formed and new cells develop.1 Beginning in infancy, reading to a child prepares them for learning. Stated in Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading, reading aloud to children is “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors prescribe reading activities for children and parents at their regular checkups.
The benefits of reading aloud to your child are numerous. Time spent snuggling up with Mom or Dad while listening to a story, provide children with a feeling of warmth, love, and security. The coziness and intimacy of sharing a book with a loved adult delights children.
Parents play an inestimable role in laying the foundation for emerging literacy. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors prescribe reading activities for children and parents at their regular checkups. Despite this advice and considerable evidence to benefits of reading aloud to children, only 50% of toddlers are read to regularly.
There are various reading aloud styles utilized by parents. These approaches may range from a straight reading of a text, to talking about the illustrations, to reading with extensive interaction. In the home-school study documented in Beginning Literacy with Language, two types of talk occurred during shared book reading between adults and children. Immediate talk is closely tied to illustrations and words in the text. Nonimmediate talk uses the text to relate to personal experiences, comments and questions about general knowledge, drawing inferences, and making predictions. The study concluded that children scored higher on kindergarten tests measuring early literacy and language skills when they engaged in more nonimmediate talk during shared reading with adults. The study also concluded that there is a positive correlation between the amount of time spent on reading books at home during the preschool years and teachers’ ratings of children’s language and literacy skills at age 5.6
10 Tips for Reading Aloud to Your Child
1. Select a book that is appropriate for your child’s age. Numerous book lists are available or consult a children’s librarian.
2. Start at infancy and continue even after your child has begun to read independently. Children are never too young or too old to be read aloud to.
3. Make reading a pleasure and show enthusiasm as you read. Find a comfortable spot and snuggle up close to your child and a book. Read stories with expression and interest.
4. Read to your child often! Research supports 30 minutes a day, but these minutes need not be continuous. Set aside special times to read as part of your daily routine.
5. Talk with your child as you read together. The least effective method of reading aloud to your child is a straight reading of the text. Connect to the story and engage your child in nonimmediate talk.
6. Encourage book exploration. Have lots of books available for your child to look at, touch, and hold. Libraries and used bookstores are good resources if your income is limited.
7. Read favorite books over and over. Sometimes parents get frustrated when a child requests the same book over and over again. Hearing the same stories helps children learn to read by hearing familiar words and seeing what they look like in print.
8. Choose a variety of books. Don’t forget poetry and nonfiction when selecting books to read. Predictable books help a child recognize repeated words and enjoy saying them as you read along.
9. Choose books that help you teach. Alphabet and counting books are great teaching tools. Many stories teach important social behavior, such as sharing and friendship.
10. Let your child read to you. Young children love to retell the story that has just been read to them. Illustrations provide children with clues in order to “pretend’ read.
In conclusion, read to your child every day! Reading aloud, with active participation from your child, helps children learn new words, learn about written language, and see the connection between words that are written and words that are spoken. Evidence from research says that reading and talking to your infant and/or toddler may be the single most important thing in determining your child’s intellectual, economic and social success. Just 30 minutes a day and your child’s life will be changed forever!
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