Why it is so important to read aloud to your kids
I want to share this email I received from a reading specialist in response to my recent blogpost about parents pushing academics on preschool kids, who actually learn best through well-designed play. The blogpost was then published on The Washington Post’s education page, which runs in Monday’s Metro section.
The following comes from Barbara Bosworth, a reading specialist at Haycock Elementary School in Fairfax County Public Schools and a faculty associate at Johns Hopkins University. Her thoughts about the importance of reading aloud to children are, well, important. Read on.
Hi Valerie, I read your blog today with sadness about potential time of childhood amiss and absence of real joy. For my greatest joy as a mother was reading aloud to our three children (all three grown and in their 20s--- an attorney, an electrical engineer/Marine Corps pilot, and a graduate student in education).
Just as I purchased separate size clothing for the three, I would read separately to each of them and then together as well. Reading aloud, talking about books and going to the library was a major priority in our house.
My husband was a naval officer at the time, deployed at sea for nine months, six months at a time and I’d send him books and tapes so he could record readings, and the children could hear his voice and read and reread stories as well.
On Thursday this past week, many teachers in our area attended the Greater Washington Reading Council Conference with Kylene Beers [(president of the National Council of Teachers of English and author] and Bob Probst [a research fellow at Florida International University and reading instruction expert].
Kylene said something that we’d all agree upon, know for sure, and want to shout on billboards and full page newspaper ads: It’s simply that the single best predictor of how a child will do over 12 years of school is: How much s/he was read to prior to the first day of first grade. It’s that simple.
A lot of reading aloud means 20-40 minutes per day. It does not have to be 20 consecutive minutes, but can be 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Those who’ve been read to have working vocabularies of 40,000 words. They have heard over 3 million words.
Children who’ve been read to barely or none at all have 10,000 word vocabularies. They’ve heard just 750,000 words. (Unfortunately, the majority of these words have been negative -- "because I said so", etc.) So they have limited vocabulary and limited view of themselves. The gap is already there and every child wants to read in first grade.
The child who has been read to has a system of semantics and syntax. With their extensive vocabulary, when they sound out tricky words, they have knowledge of possibilities for that unknown word.
As Kylene stated at the conference on Thursday, if we want to change America, we need to change how parents read to their children.
This reading requires two-way interaction--lots of talk. So the parents are pushing their children, and all they need to do is read aloud, with joy and talk. Doing this is like treasure and gold for a child’s life and with libraries, does not have to cost either.
I have a framed "Good Night Moon"(a story I read over 1,000 times to our children) poster in our laundry room, a testament to the joy and power of reading aloud.
I wish we could share this wonderful message to the parents of young children!
Barbara Bosworth, Reading Specialist at Haycock Elementary, Fairfax County Public Schools and faculty associate at Johns Hopkins University, teaching a fall reading methods class in the department of special education
| November 11, 2009; 9:35 AM ET
Categories: Fairfax County Public Schools, Parents, Reading | Tags: preschool, reading aloud, reading instruction
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