Reading aloud to babies and young children is the single most effective thing parents can do to help prepare their children to succeed in school. Unfortunately, fewer than half of U.S. children ages 5 and under are read to every day, placing them at risk for reading delays and school failure.
Why is reading aloud to young children so important?
- Children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule.
- Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory.
- Early language skills, the foundation for reading ability and school readiness, are based primarily on language exposure - resulting from parents and other adults talking to young children.
- Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child's vocabulary at age 3. The landmark Hart-Risley study on language development documented that children from low-income families hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4.
- Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children's books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students conversations.
- The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
- Reading aloud is a proven technique to help children cope during times of stress or tragedy.
- Reading difficulty contributes to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, leaving school, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy - all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
Find more Parent Resources, including book recommendations for children and adults, reading tips and developmental guidelines for your growing child
Reach Out and Read prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Families served by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills, better prepared to achieve their potential.
In the New York region, Reach Out and Read of Greater New York serves over a quarter of a million children at 182 locations, including all the major hospitals in the New York City area.
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