Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prescribe 'Reading To Babies'

"If every parent understood the huge educational benefits and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent, and every adult caring for a child, read a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation"
    Mem Fox, bestselling children's author and internationally respected literacy expert 

      The Art and Science of Reading Aloud to Children

Preface: "The connections in a child's brain that will determine how creative, imaginative and clever the child will become, have mostly (80 - 90%) been "wired" by the time a child is three years old. The greater the number of words children hear before age three, the higher their IQ and the better they do in school"... Mem Fox
  • The key to early learning is talking/reading to children before age three
  • Chanting nursery rhymes, singing songs, & reading books from birth is a gift to the child 
  • Reading aloud reaps huge intellectual, emotional and physical benefits that enhance the child's permanent brain mass development
  • While critical to building brains, reading is equally important to building trustful and close relationships. The intimacy of sharing books strengthens the emotional bonds between a parent and child
  • Scientists know that children whose parents read and talk to them during the first three years of life create a stronger foundation for future reading
  • Children learn to read as they listen and look at books 
  • Do not underestimate the infant who can not express him/her self. Young babies are building their 'receptive' vocabularies through the spoken environment around them
  • By three, the child has acquired all the complexities of a language - the structure of grammar, sentences, and inflections. All that is left is to enlarge, enhance, and refine
  • Children whose parents regularly read to them have an easier time sitting and focusing
  • Non-verbal cues raises the quality of the speech (it's not just quantity). For example, a child will be more likely to understand hippopotamus when you point to it as you say it. 
  • Involve your child by having him/her point out objects while you talk about the pictures
  • Encourage your child to ask questions or repeat words
  • Reading picture books introduces children to art through the illustrations
  • Learn to set aside a special time each day (bedtime, after meals, etc.) to share books
  • Share books when you and your child are in a relaxed mood
  • Reading aloud helps to soothe a child who is sick or tired
  • Be sure to turn off distractions -- TV, radio, stereo, computer, cell phone etc.
  • It is up to the reader to bring the story to life
  • What's important is the love of words, the cadence of  parents' speech, the enthusiasm conveyed
  • Read with expression, breathe life into the simplest of stories, weave emotion in and out of the printed words 
  • Exaggerate tones - whisper - use accents - vary the pace (even pause for silence sometimes)
  • Let your voice take on the quality of the word (especially verbs) - "the sssnake sssslides ssssloooooowlyyyyyy through the grrrassss...."
  • Remember, if you, the reader, are having fun the listener (child) will have fun too
  • Vary the type of book - humorous, historical, classics - don't be afraid to choose great books aimed at older children
  • Let your child help to select the books he or she would like to read
  • Reread books as much as the child would like
  • Use books to take advantage of "waiting" times -- on trips, at the doctor's office or airport, etc.
  • Don't just read books - read everything anywhere - billboards - road signs - menus - cereal boxes - magazines - cartoons, etc.
  • Let the child see you reading. Talk about what you read with your child
  • There is no age at which a child should not be read to (even in the womb)
  • Reading to children is easy, affordable and feasible for parents no matter what their level of education or economic standing in life
  • Reading aloud is a simple, inexpensive and pleasurable way to improve children's health & development, and raise their prospects for a brighter future                            
talking to your baby, language spoken, intellectual, emotional, benefits on child's development
Papa Green Bean reading aloud
with his daughter, Anna 

Long before children start pre-K, their pediatricians can be viable advocates to help parents understand the value of exposing their children to language, with strong encouragement to read aloud daily with their children. Doctors and nurses have begun to prescribe reading to babies along with regular checkups. Hallelujah!

Until next time...
Cheers, Papa Green Bean