Sometimes we think that children need to be of a certain age before we can read to them. However, research shows that reading, talking, and singing to children regularly from birth stimulates brain development.
“…early reading does have an impact on the parts of the brain that are
fundamental for developing literacy early on.”
Dr. Thomas DeWitt
Director of the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
In addition, research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting also shows that reading to children from early infancy also increases a child’s vocabulary.
Why is increasing a child’s vocabulary so important?
The first few years of your child’s school education is oral. Thus, the child who has the largest vocabulary will understand the most, while the child with the smallest vocabulary will grasp the least.
“Children who start school with a poor vocabulary rarely catch up.
The bottom line is there is not a lot of room for error on this issue.”
Jorge E. Gonzalez, PhD, of Texas A&M University
A U.S. Department of Education-funded researcher who studies oral language and literacy development.
I talk a lot to my child. Isn’t that enough?
The English language is one of the richest in vocabulary. Chances are we do not use most of these words in regular conversation – especially when conversing with a toddler! 😉
In contrast, a good children’s book will be three times richer in vocabulary than a conversation. In addition, conversation is not as precise. Conversation is often rambling, not grammatically correct, and less organized than print.
How to Give Children an Extra Edge…
Read Fiction and Non-Fiction
Read Non-Fiction. This better prepares children for school where they will encounter more nonfiction texts and technical vocabulary. A child’s first few years of instruction is primarily oral. If they have a broader vocabulary that encompasses technical words, they will understand more of what the teacher or textbook is teaching. Usborne’s Non-Fiction Books
Read above a child’s reading level to expand their vocabulary.
Children can listen at a higher reading level than they can read on their own. Read different and higher level books regularly and often to expand your child’s vocabulary beyond Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss. Usborne’s Illustrated Stories
Read smart books for smart kids!
Read SMART books. It is important to hear language in a well written form as grammar is more caught than taught. Evaluate what you are reading and what is on your bookshelves. Yes, it is okay to throw away poorly written books.
Following these guidelines and reading aloud to your child from infancy is a great way to give them an extra edge when they start school. Continuing to read aloud to your school age child from a variety of non-fiction and fiction books will keep their educational progress steady.