The first week in March should be a happy time for parents and children because it’s Read Across America, a national celebration to promote reading to our children. We celebrate it March 1 to coincide with the birthday of the famous and beloved author Dr. Seuss. But one should consider it a privilege to participate for the entire month (and even longer).
Frequently in my blogs, I post statistics to emphasize the seriousness of a bad or unsettling situation. I do it for a simple reason. I find it sometimes necessary to add a jolt to emphasize how widespread a problem is. However, the statistics I submit in this blog provide a positive and powerful rationale for reading to children. It points to a picture of hope and achievement, and here is the best thing about it: Reading to children is something that most of us can share, and it costs nothing. (The key, of course, is your local public library.)
Put simply, if you read to your children at home, they will have a “substantial” advantage over children who are missing this valuable ingredient in their lives. This is not one-upmanship but rather your personal, small effort to provide a boost for the child that you love.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education:
- Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized the alphabet. Only 14 percent of the children who were not read to recognize the alphabet.
Children who have someone who reads to them are more likely to:
- Count to 20 or higher (60 percent versus 44 percent).
- Write their own name (54 percent versus 40 percent).
- Read or pretended to read (77 percent versus 57 percent).
I don’t want to drown you in statistics, but a few are terrifically important because they involve the “glue” that helps children with their education when parents read to them.
“The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. “Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.”
I find this critically important because it gives parents the power of improving their children’s lives in a way that continues well after they grow up.
All it takes is a few minutes, a touch of patience, and a little variety in subject matter that everyone can uncover by visiting the library. Helping and teaching your child to read is one of the most significant benefits and blessings that you can bestow on your child.
As part of Read Across America Week, I’ll be reading to local school children in Riverside, Palmyra, Willingboro and Camden. Now make I suggest that you go out and read to your child or any child?
That’s my take, what’s yours?