Let’s face it…parents (and kids) are busy! It is difficult to “fit in” all that needs to be done in a day. We are often faced with having to make choices about what stays and what goes in our schedules. So, why is it so critical to include 20 minutes of reading in your child’s daily schedule? There is a wealth of research supporting daily reading with your child especially prior to and during the period when s/he is learning to read. Here are a few of the ways reading with your child for 20 (or more) minutes a day benefits him or her.
Reading is “brain food”
Our brains develop as we “feed” them with experiences. The experience of reading (whether you’re the reader or the one being read to) activates and “exercises” many of the areas of the brain. The visual cortex works as your eyes track the words on the page and look at the illustrations. Your memory makes connections between what you already know about the topic of the story and its content. You integrate new information learned through reading further strengthening and growing your network of knowledge. Reading provides one of the most enriching and complex brain activities available in life.
Reading improves listening skills
What parent doesn’t want their child to be a good listener? The experience of being read to helps children develop good listening skills by keying them into the components of language. Through reading they learn to recognize phonemes (the sound building blocks of language), learn new words to add to their oral vocabularies and connect written words to their real world applications.
Reading builds early literacy skills
Before a child can read independently she must have phonemic awareness and a basic understanding of phonics. Phonemic awareness or the understanding that words are made up of distinct sounds that affect their meaning is the precursor to reading. Reading aloud to your child is one of the main ways to help him develop phonemic awareness. Beyond this, in order to read, a person must understand that there is a connection between letters and sounds. Without this knowledge letters are just squiggles on a page! When you read with your child she learns that print is a representation of the words you say aloud. Repeated experiences with reading allow this understanding to grow. The single greatest factor in a child’s ability to read is early experiences being read aloud to.
Reading prepares children for kindergarten
In this day and age children are expected to come into kindergarten with a strong knowledge base. Today’s kindergarteners are expected to enter the classroom on day one with a knowledge of upper and lower case letters of the alphabet, the ability to recognize basic shapes and colors and the ability to count to ten. Reading books tailored towards youngsters with your child helps them develop these important and necessary skills.
Practice makes perfect
Generally, the more time you are exposed to something and the more time you spend practicing it, the better you’ll become at performing it. This is absolutely true for reading. Research shows that children who have repeatedly been exposed to books from birth generally exhibit strong reading abilities.
Reading improves academic performance
There is a strong correlation between a child’s ability to read and her academic performance. Because so much of our schooling relies on our abilities to read, children must have strong reading skills to succeed and thrive in school.
Reading just makes “cents”
For every year that a person spends reading (either independently or being read aloud to), his/her lifetime earning potential goes up considerably. For a time investment of approximately 87 hours a year (20 minutes a day for 5 days a week), you can increase your child’s ability to support him or herself in the future considerably.
Reading improves relationships
Because we are busy it is difficult to have “quality” one-on-one time with our children without distractions. Building 20 minutes into each day for reading together provides this important bonding time. There is nothing more wonderful than snuggling a young child on your lap while reading a few storybooks aloud. Even if your child is beyond the “snuggling” stage, spending 20 minutes reading independently provides you with quiet, uninterrupted time together engaged in the same activity.
This is a guest blog post. It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator.
Why Reading Everyday Is Critical to Long Term Success
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” — Walt Disney
Reading daily at home, as well as for long stretches at school, is critical to a child’s long-term success in school and in life. It is important to remember that books should be selected by the child and should not be too difficult to read.(For more information on the components of independent reading, see my recent blog, “5 Tips for Independent Reading in Your Classroom,” posted November 19, 2015.)
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald
“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.” — Marilyn Jager Adams
Parents are a child’s first teacher, and by the time the child turns one year of age they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak the language spoken in the home. But they have to hear that language! The more stories they hear read aloud, the more words they will be exposed to, and the better they will be able to talk.
“Hearing words help to build a rich network of words in a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are likely to learn to read at the right time.” (Kidshealth.org, May 2013)
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” — Margaret Fuller
“There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.” — Mary Ellen Chase
Investing as little as 20 minutes a day can be the difference in a lifetime of success or failure for a child. The table below representing Nagy and Herman’s (1987) research clearly emphasized the importance of reading at least 20 minutes per day.
“A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.” — Lyndon Baines Johnson
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” — Mortimer Adler
Did you know?
- Many states project how many prison beds it will need by determining the number of students reading below level in 4thgrade.
- 60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate.
- 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems
- Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3–4 times more likely to drop out of school. (US Department of Education)
“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility.” — Bill Clinton
“Too many of our children cannot read. Reading is the building block, and it must be the foundation for education reform.” — George W. Bush
Twenty minutes a day reading aloud to young children or listening to the child read is the key to academic success. Reading twenty minutes a day is a small investment of time that will create a life-long learner.
“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.” — Mary Schmich
Paula Dugger has a B.S., M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. Paula does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC.
Paula and her husband Neil are parents to two wonderful daughters, Alicean and Ashley, two sons-in-law Kevin and Patrick, and grandparents Carter and Blake. She also raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. The longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing Group, titledLonghorns.
For more information on the Kaleidoscope Collection, in which Paula's book can be found,click hereto visit our website or click the image to the left below to download an information sheet highlighting key features. To download the free log, click the image to the right.