By Dr. Nancy Livingston.
The critical period for developing language skills is the time between three and five-and-a-half years of age.
The highest predictor of reading success is whether a child has been read aloud to interactively.
Reading aloud with children also provides time for the three C’s—Companionship, communication, and concept development.
Anyone who wonders if it is necessary to read to young children should look at their faces as they respond to stories. It’s clear that picture books create great interest and respect.
While the purpose of reading with children isn’t to teach them anything specific, the critical period for developing language skills is the time between three and five-and-a-half years of age. The highest predictor of reading success is whether a child has been read aloud to interactively. Children who are read to have a far better chance of reading well in school—indeed, of doing well in all subjects. The reason is simple: The read-to child has a larger vocabulary and sense of story, so comprehension is high. Interactive reading is the foundation.
Reading aloud with children also provides time for the three C’s—companionship, communication, and concept development. You can’t read together without sitting close to one another. Books stimulate listening, speaking, and thinking, too. Parents can emphasize these skills as they read by asking, “What do you think the story will be about?” Listen to what the giant looked like,” or “Let’s talk about this interesting picture.”
Choose a relaxed time of day for reading. Let your child select the story, but don’t forget to share some of your own favorite books. Read with expression, put some action with it, and skip over the boring parts. Point out suspense elements and laugh at funny situations. Read and re-read the stories as often as children wish to hear it, and leave the book available for browsing afterward. Regular, and that means daily, reading is a MUST. A few minutes a day will open a door to the world of adventure and knowledge—a door your children can pass through any time they wish, to go anywhere in the world. What a legacy to leave with them!