The American Academy of Pediatrics believes reading aloud is so important they now recommend families read to infants as a daily fun activity. That’s right. Read from birth.
The group recognizes that an important part of brain development …
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The group recognizes that an important part of brain development occurs during the first three years of life and that reading aloud to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills.
Along with talking and singing, reading increases the number of words that young children hear during their growing years. Research has shown that children who are read to have heard significantly more words than children who do not have this experience.
New research suggests this gap begins as early as 18 months of age! It is critical to develop these pre-literacy skills for success in school. The benefits of a real person reading aloud cannot be duplicated with modern digital media.
How do we go about establishing a read-aloud program at home? Hold babies in your lap or snuggle up under the covers. Read aloud from a variety of children’s books. As they grow, allow children to help turn the pages. Read the words together. Tell the story from pictures. Ask questions such as: What do you see? What does it remind you of? What do you wonder about? For a few years you might be asking and answering your own questions. That’s OK.
Go to the library and allow very young children to select books that they want to hear from the boxes of durable books with thick pages and bright colorful illustrations.
Choose some that you would like to share with them. Plan to read aloud for at least 10 minutes twice a day. Just before a nap or bedtime works well. Also take advantage of bath time and riding in the car to sing songs and repeat nursery rhymes together.
What have other families done? Alice Ozma described her childhood experience of being read to by her father in the book, “The Reading Promise.” They had always enjoyed reading time from early on.
When she was in 4th grade, they made a promise to read aloud together for 100 consecutive nights. When they reached this goal, they decided to go on as long as they could. The streak continued until the day that she left for college. In addition to her academic success, Ozma says many life lessons were shared and many adolescent pitfalls avoided by the bonding they shared through reading. A list of books they read is included.
Ask your children’s librarian for additional book suggestions. Check out “The Read Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease or go to for more titles and book reviews.
For more see written in English and Spanish and “Learning Through the Seasons “ programs and podcasts.
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