Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dr. Seuss: Pick Up a Book and Read to a Child

allen weiss reading a book


Growing in a technology-driven culture…a community demanding immediate data and lacking temperance…children have sadly and significantly shied away from reading.

It matters not whether future prison construction plans are determined by third-grade reading scores.  What matters most is best reflected by a statement found in “Literacy Behind Prison Walls,” a report issued by the National Center for Education (a division of the U.S. Department of Education).  The report states that “many employers say they are unable to find enough workers with the reading, writing, mathematical, and other competencies required in the workplace.”

It appears, to varying degrees, that technology has always drawn youth away from the written word.  Beginning shortly after the conclusion of the First World War, commercial radio broadcasting drew young and old around the living room radio.  Stories and information began arriving in a form other than printed text and it was served to the listener.

By 1949, the message was delivered visually.  Americans living with range of a signal enjoyed Milton Berle, Howdy Doody and brief news broadcasts on the family television.  Again, storytelling and information gathering were transmitted to us…requiring less dependence upon reading.

While neither radio nor television brought extinction to the bound book, each became partially responsible for a movement away from reading…especially for children who were never dependent upon reading as a source of entertainment and information.

Today’s child demands hurried, high-definition delivery of information.  Messages are instant and abbreviated as typing complete words and phrases is tiresome.

A remedy, you ask?

Reading is habitual.  It is a skill that progresses exponentially with age and understanding.  Reading to your child, beginning immediately after birth, is a marvelous way to expose them to the rhythms, tones and modulation of reading and language.

In our state of Florida, according to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, 61% of fourth-graders are classified as “below proficient” in reading.  Please take a moment to reread that…

A Brown University School of Medicine study demonstrated that children ages 18 months to 25 months, read to by their parents/caregivers, had a significantly larger vocabulary than children who were not regularly exposed to reading.

Passion for reading and a gratitude for books are instilled at the earliest of ages.  Additionally, the data clearly indicates that reading to your child pays significant dividends.

According to the United States Department of Education, children read to at home, “enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not.”

Let’s look at the Department’s data:

  • Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently.
  • The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) also reported that children who were read to frequently are also more likely to:
    • count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%)
    • write their own names (54% vs. 40%)
    • read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%)
  • The more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service.
  • The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.
  • The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores.

These are difficult times.  Many parents and caregivers work multiple jobs and/or inordinate hours so as to be able to meet the needs of their family.  However, it is imperative that parents must take time out to read to their children.

According to the National Education Association, “where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average.  Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 74 points.”

Consider the value of reading to your child.  It will likely be the finest and most beneficial investment you ever make.

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