Reading to Your Child, The Earlier the Better

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   The main motivation behind becoming a children’s book author was the dream of instilling an early love of reading in all children. I want my books to reach them in a way no toy or video game can. I want their imaginations to dance and to fall in love with the silly characters I created in my books. But sadly, not every child will have the opportunity to take that journey.
    There have been articles and reports published about the declining rate of parents reading to their children on a daily basis. This is very alarming to me because I know personally that reading plays a key role in the I.Q and mental development of children. I have read to my daughter daily, even before she was born and she is a bright little girl who learns quickly and demonstrates a higher I.Q than what she should for her age. We’re still working on potty training though, so it’s not all perfect!
   *Studies show that there is an important role for parents in the development and educational performance of their children. Parental reading to children increases the child’s reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10. This is an early life intervention that seems to be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
    Key Findings
-The frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their schooling outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment.
-Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
-Reading to children 3-5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at age 4-5 as being six months older
-Reading to them 6-7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older
-Children read to more frequently at age 4-5 achieve higher scores on the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests for both Reading and Numeracy in Year 3 (age 8 to 9).
-These differences in reading and cognitive skills are not related to the child’s family background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school. *
    Including this one, there are numerous studies and statistics out there that have proven the importance of early reading. Children don’t only show a higher IQ from being read to early, they are more engaged with books, display an early love of learning and have a higher rate of concentration at school.
    With all of the research so readily available out there, I ask myself “Why is the number of parents reading to their children dropping so rapidly?” It only takes a few minutes and your child will thank you for it, maybe not directly but you will see it in the future, when they bring home higher test scores, or when they would rather pick up a book than play video games.  It’s also an excellent way of reconnecting with your child after a long day at work or school. There is no excuse why you can’t spare a few minutes.
    There is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of electronic learning devices. I agree that Leap pads and similar devices do have their advantages, but my opinion is that they should be a supplement, a form of entertainment to children, not their only source of exposure to education and literature.
 For all the parents who already read to their children everyday, a million thanks and keep on reading! Spread the word to everyone about the joy of reading to your children and hopefully that word will spread!
    As a favor to yourself and to your children, make the time. Stop by your local library and attend a toddler reading session, talk to your children about their favorite books and make up fun activities that revolve around the characters or simply curl up in a comfy chair together and take a journey into the fun and imaginative world of children’s literature. You won’t regret it. There are endless ways to make reading fun and my hope is that after reading this, you’ll run to the bookshelf and introduce your children to the fun and fantastic world of reading!
   (For added fun, stop by the Kids Corner page on my website: courtneymjones.com and download free printable coloring and activity sheets that feature the characters from my In A Room You Will Find series).
  

     Happy Reading and Learning!

*Department of Education and Early Childhood Development                                         

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