“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” This is attributed to award-winning children’s author, Emilie Buchwald, and exemplifies the work of Best Beginnings – getting books into the hands of young children and supporting their parents’ efforts to prepare them for school and life.
You probably have seen or heard about Alaska children’s low reading scores. We know what a difference it can make for a child’s whole life if they can read well by the time they leave third grade. You’ve heard the statistics about the connections between being a proficient reader by third grade – more likely to graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary training or education, less likely to engage with the welfare or corrections systems, more likely to be productive citizens contributing to their community.
We are excited to see support from the governor and legislators for more state-funded preschool opportunities for 4-year-old children and a detailed plan to ensure Alaska children learn to read by third grade in the Alaska Reads Act, Senate Bill 6.
But we should be starting to help children get ready to read way before they are 4. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with other organizations and experts, recommends parents read and talk with their children beginning at birth!
Take a look at one of the actions the National Governors Association recommends to promote reading proficiency by third grade:
- Invest in programs that increase families’ capacity to build their children’s language and literacy skills (e.g., home visiting, public-private partnerships to promote parent-child book reading and build home libraries, early literacy campaigns focused on families.
We know it starts with families. And it starts early: Milestones of Early Literacy Development (English/Spanish).
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.