Posted on May 8, 2014
Reading to Young Children
Welcome to the porch today guest blogger, Anna Kathryn Lanier. She’s a writer, a published author, and grandmother who is sharing about the value of reading to your children and grandchildren.
One of my three grandchildren has lived with my husband and me (along with her parents) for the past three years, starting when she was three years old. I am not sure exactly when I started reading bedtime stories to her, but it has become my duty to read to her nightly before she goes to sleep.
Now six, she is in kindergarten and already reading on a first grade level. The fact we made it a habit to go to the library, check out books, and read them on a regular basis has contributed to her advanced reading skills.
I admit that when she started picking up reading and math skills, I attributed it to her watching television. You know, those educational shows like Team Imuzoomi, Dora The Explorer, Sesame Street, and Bubble Guppies.
Imagine my surprise after doing a bit of research on reading to young children just how important and beneficial this act truly is. For years, research has shown that reading to a child, even those far too young to understand the words, is important for language understanding and brain development.
Reading to a newborn has benefits in that it lays groundwork for language development. According to the C.E. Snow and A. Nino study, “within a matter of seconds, thousands of brains cells…respond. Triggered by this particular experience, some brain cells are ‘turned on’ and many existing connections among brain cells are strengthened. At the same time, new brain cells are formed, adding more definitions to the intricate circuitry that will remain for the rest of those children’s lives.” In addition, a 2009 study by Keller and Just showed increased activity in the language output center of a child’s brain as they tried to store the spoken word in their memory.
If you do an internet search on “The Importance of Reading to Children,” you’ll get hundreds of articles. However, they basically all say the same thing: reading to a preschooler, no matter how young, helps the child acquire language, prepares her for school, instills a love of learning and may help prevent learning problems.
Reading helps a child’s knowledge of the sound system of language and helps her move from oral to written language.
Being read to exposes her to not only the words on the page, but also to the proper speech patterns and the basics of how a book is read. Knowing how to read a book before entering school is crucial to new readers—left to right, top to bottom, turning pages and understanding that letters make up words and that words make up stories. In addition, she is more likely to be able to count to 20, write her name and to read on her own.
- In 1992, 44 million American adults could not read well enough to read a simple children’s story to a child.
- A 1999 study showed that only 53% of children ages 3 to 5 were read to daily. Children in families below the poverty level were less likely to be read to than those with an income above the poverty level. And research further shows that a poor reader in first grade is more likely to be a poor reader in fourth grade.
- More than 20% of adults read at or below a fifth grade level—far below the level needed to earn a living wage (2001).
Honestly, I just enjoy reading to my granddaughter. I had no idea I was helping her to excel not only in school, but also in life.
Anna Kathryn Lanier is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and several of its chapters. She has completed three romance novels to date, all unpublished. After discovering a love for short stories, Anna Kathryn has since published multiple novellas, both contemporary and historical for The Wild Rose Press. She lives in Texas with her husband and has two grown daughters and three grandchildren.
Visit her on her at www.aklanier.com
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