Resources, Research and Theories Overview

Some things about raising children are the same as they were for our grandparents while other things are changing faster than most of us can keep up with. Here we will bring interesting new research findings, refer you to other relevant sites, and suggest books that may be helpful.

Reading Aloud

While different families have different priorities about what they value and want to emphasize in raising their children, we all agree that we want our children to do well. Doing well, in our culture, seems to involve some level of academic accomplishment and that implies that the children learn to read. Reading is a basic prerequisite to all of what comes next. So, we will be looking at what the research shows us about what we, as parents, can do to help our children. Perhaps it’s not a surprise but the National Association for the Education of Young Children makes the following statement, based on their review of the research.

“The single most important activity for building the understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children.” 

Zero to Three, an organization devoted to the learning and development of healthy children, reminds us that both language and literacy skills start from birth and that 0-6 months is not too early to begin.

“Begin what?” is the important question. Research shows us clearly that the necessary skills comprising the foundation for literacy are developed, as the brain develops during those early years. Reading to our children may be the most important but not the only activity. We’ll share other techniques that researchers are telling us are important as time goes on. Meanwhile, here are some guidelines for reading aloud for the 0-12 month old.

  1. Read regularly and frequently. Set aside a time that is “reading time”.
  2. Have books that your baby can handle: plastic, board, cloth. Books for this age are a physical experience.
  3. Follow your baby’s lead about timing. One page or ten, one minute or more, your baby’s behavior will alert you to her attention span. Finishing a book is not the point. Moving to the next page in a first to last direction is not the point. Reading every page is not the point. The point is to provide a warm, loving, fun experience, which is the foundation for a love of books.
  4. Watch for interests and preferences. Poems and jingles? There are books full of those and they’re fun to say and fun to hear. They also help children develop an “ear” for sounds. Animals? Again sounds, this time perhaps with a live equivalent around. Or perhaps vehicles? Interest in trucks, trains and cars develops early for some. Don’t force. Just notice.
  5. Have fun! If you enjoy something, the odds go way up that your enthusiasm will be contagious.

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