I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: Readers are Leaders, and Leaders are Readers.
Turns out, this is truer than true. Your child’s future financial success and stability in life can be largely attributed to reading, and it’s as simple as reading aloud to them for as little as 15 minutes every day from a very early age.
Given this fact, why wouldn’t anyone do it? The benefits are unmistakeable.
“The single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and future success is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but Mom or Dad or another significant caregiver taking the time every day or night (or both) to sit and read them wonderful books.” Writes Alicia Bayer.
I grew up in a home where reading was always prioritized. My brother and I were read to every single night. Sometimes story time was a quick one, squeezed into the busyness of the day. Other times it was 3 whole picture books, and it delighted us no end! I loved listening to my parents voices. I loved snuggling up against them. It was my time of the day. Time dedicated to focusing just on me and my brother.
I clearly recall pouring over the Richard Scarry Busy, Busy World, devouring each page of complex illustrations and searching for Lowly worm. I loved the pages that showed a cross section of a house from top to bottom with animal characters busy living their lives in each room of the house.
Later, these picture books became classic novels, like A Little Princess, and Anne of Green Gables, and War of The Worlds. We were read to aloud a chapter a night, and it was my favourite time of the day.
Bottom line, story time was a non-negotiable, absolutely critical element of my parent’s bedtime routine for us until we were about 10. If my parents couldn’t do it, it was our babysitter. But it happened every night, like clockwork, and we loved it.
I’m a good reader today. And I love words. I absolutely attribute this to those formative years.
But don’t believe me. There are countless studies and evidence proving the importance of reading in a child’s life. And the link between poverty and illiteracy is proven.
“Illiteracy and poverty constitute a mutually reinforcing, vicious cycle that is difficult to break”, says the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. When people are unable to read, they are cut off from information that is vital in the scramble up the socioeconomic ladder. When children are unable to read, they’re doomed to a confidence-crushing slog through the educational system, unable to understand the curriculum; their fate is similar to that of illiterate adults.
Furthermore, a study in the United States found that children from welfare backgrounds are exposed to up to 30- million fewer words than children from wealthier homes by the age of four. The implications of this are enormous.
Yet, it is absolutely possible to bridge this gap with the simple act of regularly reading aloud to a child. Numerous studies have found links between preschool language attainment and the ability to learn in school. And this in turn is a large predictor of future life successes.
But reading aloud goes beyond literacy and expanding a child’s vocabulary. Reading aloud helps children to develop their linguistic skills, memory, imagination and creative thinking. It improves their capacity for learning, it sharpens academic skills and improves and fine tunes their communication skills. It shapes their value systems, ability to face challenges, ability to express emotions, and helps to develop empathy and care for others. Reading is also an amazing tool in creating bedtime good routines and better sleep patterns in children. And, the time spent reading quietly to a child is also crucial in helping them to feel safe and secure in the world.
It is well recognised that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are critical. And reading is a fundamental part of this healthy development.
So where do you start?
At the beginning. On the first page. Before they can even speak.
You show them the pictures and talk to them. And after that, before they can read but understand and comprehend, you read the story to them, and get them involved in finding things, asking them questions about what you read and saw on the pages. And after that? When they can begin understanding those words themselves? You challenge them by reading great books. You don’t dumb things down. And if they don’t understand a word, you pause and explain it to them, letting their sponge-like brains take it all in.
And now you’ve given them the gift of infinite worlds, places and lifetimes. And you’ve given them the best shot at a successful life.
Just. Fifteen. Minutes.
A habit. A healthy routine. Like brushing your teeth.
These kids are our future leaders.
So, well done, Parent-person! We’re behind you! And we are so proud that our books are a small contributor to this bigger picture of joy and success.