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Children's Literacy

Children's Literacy

Not all children grow up in homes with a lot of books, or are regularly read to. Yet, these two things correlate highly with developing language as well as later reading success. Fortunately, research shows that many things are effective in offsetting the effects when early literacy is not encouraged in children's homes. Stimulating a love of language, modeling language and rich vocabulary, and using stories to expand a child's grasp of the larger world are all effective in attempting to close the gap between children growing up in poverty and those where books and language are a regular part of life. When young children are read to, they gain valuable vocabulary, an understanding of necessary ideas, and a bigger picture of the world. This is a vital gap to address before children are ten years old and have lagged too far behind their peers.

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, Children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school. They describe children who are read to at home as having advantages besides material advantages over children who are not read to: According to to NCES2, only 53 percent of children ages three to five were read to daily by a family member (1999). Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
  • The more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency, according to the Educational Testing Service. The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores. 


December 1, 2016

I’ve read Stay Where I Can See You to hundreds of children. Whether I’m visiting children in their school, in the hospital, or at their after school literacy program, you can hear a pin drop while I’m reading to them.The children are completely mesmerized. They absorb the important message about staying where they can be seen and afterwards, as we discuss the story, the children are eager to cooperate with helping adults keep them safe. It’s become obvious to me that while soaking in a message that could potentially save their lives, the children are genuinely enjoying the story.

I think it’s important to pause and examine the value of reading aloud to children, because the value of this activity cannot be overstated enough. The benefits of reading aloud to children are undeniable, and this is not simply my personal or professional opinion. Countless studies have proven these benefits. This is important to keep in mind with regard to your own children, your grandchildren or any child you care for and about.

I will describe a couple of benefits of reading aloud to children, but this by no means provides comprehensive coverage of this topic. To begin, reading out loud to children models language fluency and vocabulary. It helps them to acquire language skills and language development, including acquiring receptive vocabulary - understanding what is said, language fluency - finding it easier to express themselves having already heard it said aloud, and expressive language- speaking in a meaningful way that enables them to be understood. There is a high correlation between reading aloud to children and their acquisition later on in learning to read and subsequent progress in reading.

Lest I forget to mention enjoyment, the pleasure factor in reading to children cannot be overstressed. While I’ve been describing the benefits to language skills and the correlation in educational outcome, perhaps you think I’ve forgotten how nice it is to spend time with children in this way. Or how nice it is for children to be immersed in this beautiful relationship where they can hear and absorb a story. Not only is reading good for exposing children to language and developing and enriching their minds and curiosity with new ideas, reading to children encourages bonding and goes a long way towards the goal of relationship building.

Finally, I’d like to add that a rich vocabulary happens when children are exposed to language in its natural context. So, for example, in Stay Where I Can See You, ‘Toby is thrashing about,  trying to escape’. Later on in the story, ‘the turtles trembled each time a seagull squawked or splashed or swooped for food nearby’. Using rich descriptive vocabulary models good usage and enriches receptive (heard) language that children readily absorb.

I hope you will take time to enjoy reading Stay Where I Can See You with a child you love.