The ability to read well is the single most important key to the success of children in the classroom and their continued success in life. The subject of reading spills over into every subject area. Reading comprehension aids in grasping concepts in science as well as the social sciences and word problems in math. Familiarity with books leads to the development of language skills and sentence structure as a student consistently sees the English language used in proper form. Becoming familiar with written words will increase proper spelling and broaden vocabulary skills.
In addition to academic improvement, reading develops imagination and creativity. Children gain knowledge of the world around them as they are exposed to a plethora of ideas and concepts presented within literature. Reading improves concentration and has the capability of stretching their minds far beyond the reaches of their current surroundings.
With the value that is gained in reading, it is imperative that parents and schools stress its importance. Schools must require a variety of reading opportunities, and parents must support this at home. The National Reading Panel concluded, “There is ample evidence that one of the major differences between poor and good readers is the difference in the quantity of total time they spend reading.”
It is never too early to start reading. Pediatricians stress that reading to infants helps with their language development. As children grow, reading aloud gives them a variety of benefits. Parents build bonds with their children as they spend time reading. Children gain life experiences through illustrations and the written word.
It is also never too late to start reading. Usborne books published a study that stated that 100% of kindergarteners had an interest in reading a book outside of school, however, only 54% of fourth graders agreed. What changed? Parents stopped reading to their children. While it is imperative that children become independent readers, never underestimate the power of spending time reading with children or having them read aloud. Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
Some helpful hints for parents may include:
- Point out proper sentence structure even before the child knows what a period is.
- Clarify unfamiliar vocabulary words.
- Allow the child to see the page and point to the words while reading.
- Ask questions. (ex. What do you think the puppy is going to do next?)
- Be silly and read with expression.
- Find out what your child is reading and discuss it.
- Buy books as gifts and frequent the library.