Reading to children is beneficial

Parents are being encouraged to use International Literacy Day tomorrow [8 September] to start a healthy habit by reading aloud to their children.

Reading aloud to a child is the single most powerful literacy act any and every parent can do, says Anne Briggs, literacy coordinator at Red Bay Primary School.

These benefits include providing time together for the parent and child; helping a child get ready for an activity that is an essential element of literacy instruction; enabling a child to acquire new knowledge and learn new words; encouraging talk and discussion; modelling good; fluent reading; and promoting a higher level of understanding.

Reading aloud is an activity that does not cost anything or require any special training. All it requires is a minimum of 10 minutes at least three times per week. Ideally, everyday reading would provide numerous benefits but rather than not at all, try to make it a habit a few times a week.

At pre-school and primary school, students are read to every day as part of their literacy instruction. The Read Aloud activity is done by the teacher as a way of demonstrating that reading is a pleasurable activity. Children who have done this activity with their parents at home will be more prepared. They may be able to process information more efficiently and are better prepared for the guided reading instruction they will receive that is part of the Cayman Islands Literacy Strategy.

Reading aloud will provide an opportunity for both the parent and child to gain knowledge about interests. Younger children are curious about the world, and this curiosity can be satisfied through books.

Students, as they get older, begin to have a variety of interests. Just about every idea or topic can be found in a variety of books. The reading of non-fiction books is different from that of reading stories. It is useful for children to hear both kinds of books read aloud.

Reading aloud presents new words in context and can increase the number of new words in a remarkably significant way. The English language has about 600,000 words. Reading aloud at home gives children a larger vocabulary.

Children need good models to imitate. Listening to stories and selections read aloud will certainly provide a good example of what is required when they start reading themselves.

Repeated daily reading of print promotes a feeling of lifelong enjoyment of reading and has an impact on school success.

The Cayman Islands National Curriculum demonstrates by its assessment of Listening and Speaking that attention should and must be given to the development of these skills. One easy, uncomplicated way to get this development started is through the Read Aloud programme.

Good grammar and rich vocabulary – prerequisites to stimulating, imaginative and creative writing language – can be heard at work in stories and non-fiction material.

Talking about illustrations and books can take place in the car, on the plane and even at the hairdressers.

Listening to book selections read aloud is a good way to establish new understandings and start the business of higher-order thinking. Comprehension is improved.

The world of work requires its employees to think outside the box, something that reading encourages children to do. Literacy is a lifelong skill and it is best to get it started as early as possible.

Reading aloud can be as easy as brushing teeth. It comes naturally once it’s practised often enough.

With the amount of money spent on books in school, classroom and community libraries, a number of materials are available free of charge.

Librarians and teachers are available to provide parents with age-appropriate book selections.