Parenting in the modern age can mean navigating a swamp of anxieties. How can I build his vocabulary? When will he read? Am I doing the right things to prepare him for school? Is she behind the other kids?
Familiar worries. Difficult questions. Thankfully, there is at least one right answer: Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Every child. Every parent. Every day.
That is the message of a national campaign that aims to make reading aloud for 15 minutes every day the new parenting standard. That simple change, the campaign’s supporters argue, can change the face of education in this country.
Little did you know, sitting there with your wiggly one while reading aloud from good Dr. Seuss, that you were performing a magical act by:
- Building brains. Ages 0 to 3 are crucial years for brain development, and reading aloud stimulates critical areas.
- Growing vocabulary. The more words a child knows, the greater her advantage in school. Reading aloud introduces words and concepts a child might not encounter in every day conversation.
- Readying your child to read. Turning those pages tells your child how books work. Moving your finger under the words helps her understand that reading goes left to right. Talking about the story and pictures assists in your child’s comprehension.
- Teaching and learning. You’re never too young — or too old — to learn something from a book. You are your child’s first and most important teacher.
- Fostering a love of reading. Want to raise a reader? Read aloud! There’s no better advertisement than your example.
The stakes could not be higher. If nothing changes, 15 million children born over the next decade will not be kindergarten ready. Reading aloud can make a difference, and people just don’t know it: Even in higher income families, more than 40% of families don’t read aloud every day.
The ten-year Read Aloud 15 MINUTES campaign has already attracted the support of major partners such as the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, the United Way Worldwide and Reach Out and Read.
The next step? Getting parents to understand that reading aloud for 15 minutes is as important to their child’s well being as daily tooth brushing and healthy eating. But, like every great movement, this one has to start with a groundswell. Let’s make it happen by spreading the word about how important, how multi-dimensional, how essential — no, how magical — reading aloud really is.
Share the message with your family and friends. Promote the campaign in your workplace. And, of course, Read Aloud 15 MINUTES. Every child. Every parent. Every day.
Jennifer Liu Bryan lives in Alexandria, VA, and is the author of Hilda, A Very Loyal Goat, a picture book for early readers, and co-author of Cole Family Christmas, a children’s Christmas story. She is co-founder of ReadAloud.org and mother to three children (aged 6, 4 and 1).
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