Reading to children is our No. 1 priority

Read to your children and watch them reap the benefits.

It is never too early to read to children. Parents and caregivers must start as early as possible. Parents know that reading is important, but may not know why. Routinely reading aloud will expand the child’s vocabulary. Babies from the ages of 0 to 3 years old gain much of their language development during this time. Hearing the sounds of letters and the pronunciation of words provides an unparalleled advance to the child’s speech as they begin to talk. Children learn the context in which words are used.

Experts unanimously agree about the importance of reading aloud to children. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement recommending parent-child home reading beginning at birth and continuing at least through kindergarten. Behavioral evidence has shown that children who are read to, especially before school entry, experience stronger parent-child relationships and learn valuable language and literacy skills.

In addition, Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy’s Fifty Top Literacy Statistics says that reading aloud to young children is one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive development, and builds motivation, curiosity and memory.

Make reading a family priority. Schedule a daily reading time of at least 30 minute as a minimum. Many families adopt the practice of reading stories at bedtime. However, a scheduled reading session isn’t the only time reading can happen. Look at any word as an opportunity to read aloud. Billboards, ingredient lists, calendars, etc. are great resources for instant reading opportunities.

There is no “down” side to reading to your children. Reading aloud nurtures the parent and child bond. Children have a better chance of academic success. They enter school with an understanding of how books are read, the recognition of sight words and the self-regulation to sit through story time and other activities.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 impact report: “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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