Friday, May 20, 2016

Start a Child on a Lifelong Journey of Reading

Want to introduce a young child on a brand new adventure? There’s no better adventure to be had that what awaits them between the covers of great book.

Books are the gateways to new worlds, new experiences, new places, and new people that we otherwise might not have encountered. Adults hold an amazing responsibility as the literary guides who can help young children discover words and their meaning. Whether as parents, teachers, caregivers, or early childhood educators, we are the child’s conduit to magical places—both real and imagined—that are conveyed through the endless combination of 26 letters that young pre-readers are trying to master.

Long before children can read, adults can and should introduce them to books by reading aloud to them. Reading aloud is widely recognized as an important way of building an early and lifelong love of books, with research clearly showing that adults who read aloud to children form a connection and pave a path toward literacy.

Researchers also have found that children’s success in reading is strongly affected by the skills they acquire during their formative years. For instance, early oral language skills directly relate to reading outcomes in preschool and early elementary school. The converse is also true. A strong literacy environment in the home will help children develop oral skills.

The process of reading to children helps familiarize them with various printing conventions associated with books and reading—for instance, the fact that books have a title page and an author; the proper way to open a book; how reading proceeds from the top to bottom of a page and also from left to right, and so on. Even though they cannot read themselves, many young children enjoy handling a book, looking at the pictures, turning the pages, and imagining what the words might say.

With adults introducing them to the world of books, children learn about the world around them. Through the power of storytelling, children also learn about important concepts found frequently in children’s books and literature—such concepts as honesty, friendship, loyalty, and courage.

You can learn more about the benefits of reading aloud to children in our book, Flourishing in the First Five Years: Connecting Implications from Mind, Brain, and Education Research to the Development of Young Children.

Give the children in your life a gift. Instill in them a love of reading, and chances are that they will carry that gift throughout their life.

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