Last week I attended a kick-off for the ReadAloud awareness campaign. ReadAloud.org is promoting the practice of parents reading aloud to their children for 15 minutes a day. The campaign tag line – Read Aloud. 15 minutes. Every child. Every parent. Every day. – is being introduced throughout the Cincinnati region with the hopes to increase parent awareness and implementation of this practice.
Throughout the kick-off event numerous speakers presented facts about the importance of reading aloud to children. Speaker after speaker presented the benefits of this practice. And it became clear that by reading aloud to children on our laps, especially our young children, we promote their brain development, we encourage and increase their language and literacy skills, we increase our bond with our children and we prepare them for success in school! So with all this obvious benefit, why don’t more parents read to their children? Why do statistics show that less than 40 percent of our children are read to daily?
My immediate reaction is to think that parents do not realize the tremendous benefits that come from the simple practice of reading aloud. Because truly if they did, they would find a way to make it happen, wouldn’t they? Parents know the benefits related to their children eating well, getting enough sleep and practicing good hygiene. Parents make sure their children brush their teeth, learn to tie their shoes and use good manners. Parents teach children to share with others, respect their elders and use their words to ask for what they want. And if parents do all these things then surely they read aloud to their children, right?
What is often true is that parents parent the way they were parented. I can remember my parents reading stories to myself and my siblings. But they did not do this daily. Other things, like prayers before bed, brushing my teeth and eating dinner with my family were a part of my daily routine and it is these things that show up in the way that my siblings and I raise our children. So I can’t help but think if we had been read to everyday, would we being doing it now as parents? I think so.
Throughout my years of working with parents and families, I would venture to say that 99 percent of the parents I have met want what is best for their children. They want their children to have friends, do well in school, excel in their talents and grow-up safe. And most of these parents look for ways to help their children reach these goals. Because what wouldn’t a parent do for their child? Research has shown that if a child is not reading at grade level by the end of first grade, then there is an 88 percent probability the child will not be reading at grade level by the end of the fourth grade. And by age 4, children who are read aloud to regularly have heard an average of 32 million more words than children who are not.
Our parents may not have known the benefits of reading aloud to children everyday. But we do. The research has been done and the word is out! By reading aloud 15 minutes everyday to our children we can help them be successful in school, build their language skills and feel safe on our laps. Help me spread the word that reading aloud is just as important as washing hands and brushing teeth, and it is something as parents we can do for our children. Because there really isn’t anything we would not do for our kids.