“You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” ― Dr. Seuss
Reading aloud is an important tool for language and literacy development.
The simple act of reading a book aloud with a child has proven to have a myriad of benefits. These benefits include language development, building of literacy skills, and exposure to new concepts. But equally important, reading to a child helps develop a love of learning and promotes strong family bonds.
Read Across America Day, held each year on or around Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, encourages reading aloud to children. No matter the day of the year or your child’s age, you should expose them to books and enjoy the benefits associated with reading aloud.
In Connecticut, “Reach Out and Read” and “Read to Grow” are two organizations that promote reading to children, and distribute books as an important tool in improving literacy. In Connecticut, only 59.2% of third graders read at or above goal on the state’s annual mastery test.
“Reading aloud to a child is the single most important activity for preventing low literacy. It provides early language experience that stimulates a child's brain to grow,” said Anthony DiLauro, Executive Director of Read to Grow, a statewide organization.
Infants may not understand the words read aloud to them as they enjoy the warmth of the reader’s lap, but studies have shown they pick up the vocal rhythms and patterns. They will look attentively at the pictures and respond to the reader’s verbal cues.
As your child grows into a vocal toddler, books can become conversation starters. As you read a book, you may want to ask your child questions about what is happening.
Reach Out and Read offers these tips on choosing books for children, no matter what the age.
“For infants, you should look for brightly-colored board books that are small enough for little hands to grasp,” said Christine Garber, Program Director of Connecticut’s Reach Out and Read. (Reach Out and Read programs can be found nationwide.) “As your child becomes a toddler, find books that have simple rhythms and rhymes that have repetition. For preschoolers, find books that tell stories about going to school or making friends. Other good books for preschoolers include books that help them learn to count, learn the alphabet or learn vocabulary words.”
“Reading is a lifelong activity and it is never too early to start,” DiLauro said.
Need some read-aloud book ideas?
Here is the 2013 reading list from Read Aloud America:
Reach Out and Read offers an annotated book list for children:
Read to Grow offers an age-appropriate book list on its website:
Or, visit your public library, where the children’s librarians are an invaluable resource.
The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide advocacy organization working to ensure that all children are healthy, safe and ready for lifelong success. Visit us at earlychildhoodalliance.com.