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October 15, 2015

If You Want to Hook Your Child to Literacy, It’s All About the Books

There are many statistics that serve as a call to action for those of us involved in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Our overarching goal is to increase the number of low-income children who are able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. The Campaign will achieve this through three primary solution areas: increasing school readiness, increasing attendance, and increasing summer learning.

Some statistics driving our school readiness projects are:

61% of low-income families have no age-appropriate books in their homes.

There is only one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods while on average, a child from a middle-income home has 13 books.

Fewer than half (48%) of young children in the U.S. are read to daily. The percentage of children who are read to daily drops even lower (36%) among low-income families.

Brain science shows the most critical time for brain development happens in the first three years of life.

By 3 years of age, there is a 30-million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.

These statistics are driving change. One of the easiest ways to increase language development for infants and children is to expose them to books. From the time children can first hear in the womb through infancy and beyond, exposure to books can actually change brain development, raise IQ, and foster language acquisition.

Reading aloud teaches a baby about communication. It introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way and builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills. Reading to babies gives them information about the world around them.

In addition, reading aloud to children builds their brains and their capacity to learn. This early habit can have a positive effect on a child’s entire life. By reading aloud to children, positive connections take place among the reader, the child, and the book leading often to a lifetime love of reading.

By the time babies reach their first birthdays, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk.

Hearing words helps build a rich network of words in a baby’s brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to.

Photo credit: Chad Emerson Bell used with permission

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