If we want a society where people continue to read and then learn to write, it is important to start children on the road to reading as soon as possible.
Did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 2014 that parents read to children from birth? From the New York Times article on this, Dr. Pamela High, who wrote the recommendations, thinks parents doctors should tell parents to read to their children every time they bring their children to the doctor's office.
Reading aloud does more than entertain. Even in adults, reading fires the brain's chemistry more than most activities, and research "showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language."
Children who are read to learn letters, numbers, shapes and colors early which gives them a head start when they start school. Evidence shows reading aloud helps children start talking sooner, creates smarter children, and helps children develop empathy (just as it does for adults). A parent or caretaker reading to a child also offers that child the comfort of sharing time, touch, and engagement. Hearing stories helps children to enjoy learning, leading them to completing high school, and often urges them into college. Most often this custom of early childhood reading creates life-long readers. The world needs this, because right now one in four children grows up illiterate.
|My son's favorite story. I must have |
read it to him 50 times.
I believe hearing stories while seeing the words and images should start very early, and I certainly tried to encourage my children in that way. Before my children started sitting up by themselves, both my husband and I began reading to them every night until it was a ritual: dinner, a short playtime, a bath, a story or two while sitting together, and then bed. (It also made bedtime easier to accomplish.) As they became toddlers and preschoolers, the day always ended with parent and child in bed reading a story together. It didn't even affect them that they heard the same story, for they chose the story to be read, and they had certain stories they loved hearing over and over. Surprisingly, I think it helped me to. Reading aloud and changing voices for different characters while reading is a talent to develop.
I do not remember my parents reading to me regularly, but do remember four of us crowding around Mom while she read, or we listened to Dad's tall tales at dinner; but once I learned at school, I was enchanted. I always had a book needing to be read, and frequently walked the two miles to the local library to get a different book, which provided exercise, too! It also allowed me to follow my passion at the time—horses. I couldn't own one but reading Smoky, the Cowhorse, and Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and other horse stories gave me the sense of knowing a horse.
I know preschool and elementary schools are working very hard to teach children to read, and I love hearing and seeing news clips of children learning to read by reading to dogs or cats. What a good idea! Who ever thought of that? Many kudos to them!