Let’s plan to celebrate World Read Aloud Day on February 3, along with children, families, teachers, and community members in over 173 countries!
Reading books together has benefits for all participants, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or other caring adult reading with a child. When a few years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics first recommended that parents begin reading with their babies from birth, they cited several reasons:
- It strengthens bonds between parent and child.
- Babies learn that words have meaning and certain sounds mean certain things, critical skills when learning to read.
- Children who were read to as babies have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age.
- Kids who are read to every day are exposed to around 78,000 words each year – over five years, that adds up to 1.4 million words heard during story time.
- The greatest development of the brain occurs in the first three years of a child’s life – and one of the best ways to build a strong base for language and cognitive development is for parents to read and talk with their babies.
Closer to home, parents of young children enrolled in Imagination Library in Alaska report they can tell reading with their child makes them excited about reading, it brings them closer together, their child is happy when they read together – and they believe their child is better prepared to be successful in school.
Reading with a child is just plain fun! Reading together can be a family habit or routine. Families make memories when they spend time reading together, and, as children grow older, each can take a turn reading to the others. Parents often think that there’s no need for them to read to their child once she learns to read on her own – but that’s not the case. Children love to demonstrate their new reading skills, and parents can continue to expand their child’s vocabulary and interests when reading books too hard for that child to read alone.
I heard a lovely story about a woman and her two adult daughters who regularly spent an hour or two reading together. As the mother became elderly and her eyesight failed, their habit of reading together continued in a very natural way, and the mother never felt she had become an invalid who had to be “read to.”
So, from babies to grandparents – and great-grandparents – make some reading memories on World Read Aloud Day and every day.