Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For Those in the Trenches

Oh yes it is! And more than that, it's so good for your kids. Here are some guidelines for at-home reading:


In a study of neighborhoods where children tended to do well in school, almost half the children were read to regularly before they were two years old and in neighborhoods where children tended to do poorly in school none of the children were read to until they were four years old (Feitelson and Goldstein, 1986). Bookivore wholeheartedly recommends reading to your children from birth. Or earlier, if reading to your pregnant belly floats your boat. If you are pregnant and have other children, you are doing this anyway.


A study conducted in 1986 found that among children who did well in school, 96% were read to daily and 45% were read to for 30 minutes or more a day. In neighborhoods where children tended to do poorly in school, 61% of the children were not read to at all (Feitelson and Goldstein). That's a pretty meaningful correlation. In this case, less is not more; less is just...less. Frequency and duration are the watchwords here.


An earlier study in 1982 found that children who did well in reading throughout school tended to come from homes where they were both provided with children's books and read to interactively -- meaning that their parents made sure (through questions, pointing out text and picture cues, etc.) that they understood what was going on in the stories they read. Parents who provided books but did not read interactively tended to have children who did well in early elementary, but not as well in later elementary. Parents who valued education but didn't provide books for their preschoolers or read to them tended to have children who did poorly in reading (Heath, Language in Society). Books are good. Books are wonderful. But books aren't enough. Interactive reading is the key to improving comprehension.


A different study of first grade classrooms in which some classrooms were read stories at the end of their day and other classrooms were not read stories demonstrated that reading to the children led directly to the children reading more on their own. By the end of the study period, the students who were read to were reading better independently than those who had not been read to. More than that, the act of reading to the children increased their overall interest in reading (Feitelson and Goldstein, 1986). The more they're read to, the more they'll read. Like putting money in the bank. I mean, you know, a good bank.


When you read to your child, thousands of cells in his or her brain respond. Some get turned "on" because they relate to this particular experience. Connections already established in the brain are strengthened and new brain cells are formed, adding refinement and complexity to the very structure of the brain. This new complexity will remain in place for the rest of the child's life. (University of Chicago). When you read to a child, you are quite literally growing their brains.

I bet the Obamas read to their kids.
I'm just saying.

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