Research has shown just how important it is to read aloud to young children, particularly for those youngsters from poorer backgrounds, in order to provide a foundation from which they can build a successful future. A study by Hart-Risley found that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have been exposed to up to 30 million fewer words than children from wealthier homes by the age of 4.
It is possible to bridge this gap through the simple act of regularly reading aloud to your child. It is critical for early language development – helping with sound awareness, memory and motivation. Reading aloud to infants helps them to start to understand language before they can even speak.
J Torgeson, who wrote ‘Avoiding the Devastating Downward Spiral’, said the following. ”Children who fall seriously behind in the growth of critical early reading skills have fewer opportunities to practice reading. Evidence suggests that these lost practice opportunities make it extremely difficult for children who remain poor readers during the first three years of elementary school to ever acquire average levels of reading fluency.”
Reading aloud gives children access to unusual words and concepts that they may not have come across in their everyday life. Vocabulary can therefore be enlarged naturally. It also helps them to develop the important skill of listening, which can benefit many areas of life beyond school. It enriches their lives and provides a priceless gift that gives them access to a world of books.
During shared book reading, children learn to recognise letters, understand that print represents the spoken word, and learn how to hold a book, turn the page and start at the beginning. ~ Reach Out and read.org
Reading aloud to young children is also beneficial to developing routines, particularly if stories are read at the same time daily. Reading before bed can encourage a child to recognise that it is time to sleep. They can look forward to this time, and often settle down to sleep in a calm manner. It has been suggested therefore that reading a ‘goodnight story’ can encourage a good night’s sleep and in turn a happier healthier child in the long run.
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