Why Reading Aloud Is So Important
The development of literacy skills through early experiences with books and stories is critically linked to children’s later success in learning to read. When children are exposed to books and reading, they develop early literacy skills, including basic book-handling abilities, interpreting pictures, following the plot of a story, and associating meaning with the printed word. These early literacy skills become part of the bigger picture of the developmental process of literacy.
Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for literacy development and eventual reading success. Numerous studies have found that children who are read to from an early age are more successful at learning to read and that early exposure to print is an important part of literacy development. Research on emergent literacy skills in young children has found important links between their ability to read and their exposure to literacy experiences prior to school, whether at home or nursery.
The quality and quantity of language that children hear in their first three years contributes to their cognitive development, and the interactions children have with language in their earliest years form the foundation of their ability to be able to read and to comprehend what they read later on. When children are read stories, they encounter new words beyond the words that they would hear as families go about their “daily business” together, as they eat, get ready for bed, go to the shops, for example.
When parents read to children, they hear more complex and sophisticated language, which forms the building blocks of their literacy and language development. Researchers have found that families who share books tend to have more “extra talk” beyond the daily “business talk” that happens as families move through their day and routines together. This “extra talk” also tends to contain more affirmations, which contributes to children’s self-esteem.
Access to books is essential to developing basic reading skills, leads to longer and more frequent shared reading between parents and children, and produces increased enjoyment of books and improved attitude towards reading and academics.
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