Why You Should Read to Your Little People

What if I told you that 35% of American children start kindergarten without sufficient language skills.

Would you believe it?

It’s true.

And, two-thirds of all 4th grade students are not reading at grade level. These children will be 4 times less likely to graduate from high school than proficient readers.

Which means that a growing semi-literate population is likely going to struggle with poverty.

Which means . . . oh, never mind.

Lest you be tempted to despair, stop reading, and go binge on cookies, I have some suggestions – and encouragement – for you and the youngsters in your life.

Reading out loud:

  •  reinforces the basic sounds that form language. By reading books like, say, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, children learn critical enunciation skills. This Seuss classic is a probably has the largest number of short words of any kids book out there. Everything from Yops to Gacks. Great practice for little emerging talkers.
  •  teaches the basics of how to read a book. Have you ever considered that children are not born with the innate knowledge that text is read from left to right? Or that words on a page are separate from images? These are essential pre-reading skills.
  •  expands vocabulary. Studies have shown that 2-year-olds who are read to regularly have a larger vocabulary than toddlers who aren’t. No surprise there. Reading constantly introduces new words. Giraffes Can’t Dance is one of my 2-year-old granddaughter’s recent favorites. Since the story is set in Africa, Natalia learned some new-to-her creatures: “warthog,” “meerkat,” and “wildebeest.”  She knows them all. And to hear her say them is, well, total cuteness.                                                                                                              
  • introduces the concept of story. Toddlers also love repetition. Which is why your little person will request  the same story over and over and over again. Then, he’ll start memorizing phrases and rhymes and even reading aloud with you. This is called emergent literacy and is, if I may say so, thrilling. This also means that Goodnight Moon will be burned into your brain.
  •  helps develop a stronger relationship with you. Sitting close together, reading, slows you both down. It nurtures. Your child will sense your delight both in being with him and in books. Sitting with my granddaughter in our reading chair with a stack of books she has chosen is one of my life’s particular pleasures.
  •  helps predict academic excellence. Aha! Reading to a child promotes a higher aptitude for learning in general. Numerous studies indicate that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all areas of formal education. Period.

So turn off the electronic chatter. Grab a book and that little person in your life. Sit down. And read.

Easy investment – big, big return.

Do you have memories of being read to as a child? If so, what books?


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Heather on September 19, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com


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