By: Earl Martin Phalen
Unfortunately, less than half of parents in the U.S. read to their children daily. As a result, millions of our children go to school unprepared to learn.
A third of our nation’s children enter kindergarten without the ability to recognize the letters of the alphabet. Many do not know that you read from left to right and others don’t even know how to hold a book.
The saddest part is that most of these children will never catch up.
The great news is that the key to school readiness is relatively simple – read and talk with your child.
It’s crucial that we read to our sons and daughters, our younger siblings, our cousins, and our friends. Below are five reasons you should read to the child you love.
Children who are read to show a dramatic increase in:
3. Language skills
4. Happiness – Reading reduces stress and restless behavior!
5. Overall development – Children read to show a 6-month developmental gain over their peers.
There are many organizations to help your child or family member read. Two great national resources are Reach Out and Read and public libraries.
Reach Out and Read, an organization that I lead, serves nearly 4 million children and families annually via 28,000 pediatricians and medical volunteers who “prescribe reading.” We’re an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.
To see if your doctor participates in Reach Out and Read, I encourage you to visit www.reachoutandread.org
Public libraries across the nation have reading activities for children of all ages and wonderful books in the children’s section. Encourage your child to sign up for a library card. Checking out books and reading them at home leaves your child with lasting memories – and prepares her for future success in school.
If we love our children and want them to succeed, we must make books part of our daily routine!
Earl Martin Phalen is the CEO of Reach Out and Read, which impacts early literacy efforts for 4 million children annually. Phalen is also the Founder of Summer Advantage USA. Recognized by TIME Magazine, Summer Advantage uses research based summer programs to help school districts increase student performance. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, Phalen was an education advisor to President Obama and Governor Deval Patrick.