We all know the feeling of getting lost in a good book. This feeling begins in elementary school when most students have just started reading chapter books on their own. They get lost in fantastical, magical worlds with creative characters. These experiences inspire them to keep reading long into adulthood. This spark for reading needs to be ignited in early childhood! Reading to your little one provides more than just an opportunity to bond, it is vital to their development and later success in life.
According to the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics):
- Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14% of children who were read to less frequently.
- The NCES also reported that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to:
- Count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%)
- Write their own names (54% vs. 40%)
- The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.
Reading in the early years supports kindergarten readiness, and builds a solid foundation for future academic success. Early literacy skills include alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, letter formation, and oral language. At home, you can promote these skills in a variety of ways:
- Make sure to read out loud to your child starting at a very young age. It helps them hear language correctly and as they get older, they will be able to match oral language with written language, which will build their fluency skills.
- Repetition is key! You may have noticed that your little one loves hearing the same story over and over again. Repetition helps them to anticipate events in the story, sequence important details, and memorize characters.
- When your kiddos are a little older, make sure to pause during a read-aloud to ask developmentally-appropriate questions. It is best to have them make predictions about what they think will happen next. I also like to ask them character questions such as, “Why do you think they did that?” “How would that make you feel?” “Have you ever done something similar?” These questions build skills in comprehension and literary analysis.
- Have a variety of books handy! I recommend a selection of varying genres. A fictional story will be written in a very different way from an informational text. Learning how to ready for a variety of purposes is a great skill to have later in life. While they may love fairytale stories, they may equally love a non-fictional STEM book teaching them how to construct a castle!
If you follow some of these tips you will not only elevate their literacy skills, but you will have a budding novelist residing in your home!