The American Pediatrics Association says, “Immunize your children against illiteracy.”
NPR’s Audie Cornish interviewed Professor Susan Neuman about new evidence showing that the younger you read to your children, the better. Reading benefits babies, from earliest vocabulary development though later achievements.
Were you one of those lucky children who was read to?
I have preschool memories of my dad reading me Dr. Seuss and, I kid you not, The Wall Street Journal, and my mom reading me a chapter of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi before every nap.
Reading to my own children was even more enjoyable. My first toddler was barely forming two-word sentences when he announced from his car seat, “No, Pat! No, Pat!” He was pointing to a cactus, alluding to Dr. Seuss: “No, Pat, no! Don’t sit on that!” My younger son, by 3 or 4 spoke fluent King James, holding a book, pretending to read, making up stories and admonitions with archaic verb tenses and expressions, never confusing it with our colloquial English.
Reading is not only for babies. Don’t let children outgrow it! Jim Trelease (The Read-Aloud Handbook) suggests that teens wash dishes while parents read aloud. Talk about a Win-Win. The Phantom Tollbooth made a favorite dish-time hit.
Reading obviously benefits brain development, language acquisition, and academic achievements, but what I love most about reading/being read to, in classrooms and families, is the social development, between the literature and the readers, and the readers amongst themselves.
- Empathy: reading another’s mind, walking in others’ shoes, experiencing other ages, places, cultures, and times.
- Common vocabulary, allusions, characters, and private jokes, instantly conveying a concept or strengthening a relationship.
- It’s hard to read and argue at the same time. (Certain people can pull it off—it helps to be attached to the literal, as in high-functioning autism—but imagine where such a person would be without literature and those ensuing discussions.)
What is your favorite reading benefit? Your favorite memory of communal reading?
Text © Gwyn Nichols 2014. All rights reserved. WritersResort.com
Photo © Liza McCorkle. iStockPhoto.