Today is Family Literacy Day, a gentle reminder about the importance and joy of reading at home. Just 15 minutes a day, say literacy advocates, can have a dramatic impact on your child’s reading abilities and develop important critical thinking skills. And, it’s fun!
I would add to this: read out loud.
Why? Not all children are avid readers, and some are struggling with learning disabilities that affect their ability to read. For these children, hearing a story read out loud is a simple yet effective way to build literacy skills, confidence and a love of reading.
ABC Canada has collected some interesting stats about the benefits of reading out loud for all types of readers–and they go far beyond literacy:
- Reading and telling stories to a child at 18 months are powerful stimuli for brain development in the early years (Early Years Study Final Report: Reversing the Real Brain Drain, Government of Ontario, 1999).
- The more time spent with a parent reading out loud increases a child’s level of attachment, enhances a sense of security, and imparts the knowledge that their parent feels they are worthwhile people with whom to spend time (How to Raise a Reader, 1987).
- Having a parent or other caring person read out loud helps children learn listening skills, vocabulary and language skills, as well as develop imagination and creativity (Family Literacy Foundation, 2001).
My family has been reading together at bedtime since my daughter was born nine years ago. And we haven’t stopped. Why? Because getting lost in a good story is a lovely way to relax and reconnect as a family at the end of the day.
My daughter is both a reluctant reader and a lover of books, so we bring all types of reading material to bed. Picture books, chapter books for children and adults, poetry, fables, encyclopedias, you name it. We lean towards books with a strong female lead, but nothing is off limits.
Here are a few favourites currently on our bedside table:
So if your child likes to play video games, read the Minecraft books. History lover? Why not read an encyclopedia of Greek mythology? Comics more than chapters books? Read graphic novels for children.
Forget about learning to read, and focus on loving to read. The rest will follow.