Reading Starts At Home

September 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Content Area Literacy | 2 Comments

(authored by Amanda Herbert)

Reading to children when they are young is essential to the development of emerging literacy skills. Parents and guardians are a key factor in creating reading success for children. In today’s society it is not uncommon for parents to have very little time to spend with their family. Between soccer practice, grocery shopping, work, and laundry, it can be difficult to find the time that is so crucial for our children. Parents may assume that because their young child is at day care and learning literacy skills from a teacher, that they do not play as much as a role in the success of their child. Research has proven that this wrong and parents in fact do play a very important role in reading success for their child. According to the U.S. Department of Education children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading than children who were read to less than three times a week.

When parents show a positive attitude towards reading, children start to build that same attitude. According to research, “children’s beliefs, attitude, values, and expectations towards literacy and school is strongly affected by their parents” (www. Reading one book before bed time is a great way for parents to help encourage children to enjoy reading. I feel that parents and children should make reading before a priority. It should be an enjoyable moment together. Parent and child should pick out a book together and take a few minuets to talk about why they chose a book. This can help start conversations about reading and help to encourage language development. Parents can teach important reading skills by allowing the child to turn the page as the parent reads. Parents can also talk about the pictures and have a moment to talk about any real life connections they might have to that book. For example, if the book chosen is about airplanes, the parent and child can have a brief talk about a time they were on a plane together. Not only does reading to your child encourage literacy, but it can also help the parent and child connect and spend time together. With our busy schedules, it can be hard to have time to just talk to our children. However, not every family is a traditional family in today’s society. How can we reach parents that may not be home at night? How do we reach the families that don’t have the resources? How about single parent families? How can we encourage ALL parents to read to their children?

Helping your child succeed in school is one of the best things a parent can do for their child. There are many resources and tools out there for families and parents. Local libraries and schools have many programs to help assist parents in finding the time and the books for their children. Reading with your child will help ensure that your child will create lasting memories for your family.



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  1. I am in total agreement that when children are read to, especially aloud, it is an essential factor in developing their emerging literacy skills. Parents/guardians are the first teachers of reading and the first role model for our children. When parents/guardians create a positive environment for learning, spend time reading with their children and promote the books that are of interest to their children, there is a greater possibility that their children, beginning as early as six months, will foster an interest in reading. Even with an informal setting, children will be able to learn symbols and sounds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) “children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not read to at home . . . statistics show twenty-six percent recognize all letters of the alphabet compared to fourteen percent; 60% could count to 20 or higher compared to 44%; 54% could write their own names compared to 40% and 77% could read or pretend to read compared to 57% .”(
    These statistics show that reading to our children is an important element for them to become good readers.
    “In recent years, policymakers have directed considerable resources toward improving the literacy skills of the nation’s youngest schoolchildren, with the goal of helping every child to master the basics of reading by end of third grade.”(
    By the end of third grade, millions of children, especially those living in low-income or poverty levels, read below grade level.
    Statistics from the Casey Foundation found “83 percent children from low-income families in any school can’t read proficiently by the time they get to fourth grade”. The Casey Report also “argues for the development of an integrated system of early care and education that helps children from birth so they are ready to succeed in school and can read by the end of third grade.”
    Some excellent strategies for parents to use when reading to their children were listed. I agree with them and would like to add some more important strategies. Parents should select a book that is of interest to their child, reinforce what is learned through different modalities like drawing pictures, singing or creating charts, continue the discussion of the book that was read and think of a different ending to instill language and vocabulary skills, plan a set schedule to read, plan or attend activities that relate to your book discussions, and discuss what you, as well as your child, have learned. Additionally, parents should set expectations of academic achievements for their children. They should encourage attendance at school, go to the library with their children and continuously give positive reinforcement.
    “There is no substitute for the parent’s or primary caregiver’s role as a child’s first teacher, best coach, and most concerned advocate.” reports the Casey Foundation. As statistics prove, parent’s role of reading to their children is most beneficial in developing strong reading skills for their children. These skills cultivate into better overall academic success as well as increasing their child’s self-esteem. Parents can always find challenges inherent to scheduling reading time for their children. They is always a way to stay involved. If they feel that they do not have the finances to purchase books, they can go to the libraries. They can plan home learning activities or seek guidance from school or community. Parents are a major part in the community efforts to educate our youth and should recognize themselves as important. They are many options to keep all parents involved. Do you have more suggestions?

  2. I also agree that reading at home is crucial in developing literacy skills in children. I agree that by having parents that are excited and engaged in reading it builds a love for reading in a student. This is similar to the article that we read in class and the discussions that we have had in class. When teachers are passionate about reading, their students also become passionate about reading. Students will benefit from loving to read because they will develop literacy skills which will help them across content areas. This love for reading needs to begin at home.

    I found an article discussing the benefits of reading to children. In this article, the author talked about a study that was done in Rhode Island. In this study, the Rhode Island hospital compared two groups of eight month old babies. The group of babies that was read to, had their receptive language increase 40% since they were babies. The babies who were not read to, only increased by 16% ( This is a significant difference. Even if children are infants, the benefits of reading to a child are numerous. Many skills are developed just from hearing a book being read. As stated above, reading a book will lead to conversations. By having conversations on a book, the child’s ability to comprehend grows.

    In addition to building a child’s receptive language, reading to children also provides children many benefits. Reading to children also builds listening skills. When children are read a story they have to listen for key points in the story. This is a skill that is used in many classes as teachers often orally deliver instruction to the class, followed by students taking notes on the material. (

    Reading to children also helps to develop better communication skills. Children who are read to are exposed to characters in books having dialogues. They pick up on the exchange between characters and in turn it builds their communication skills. ( Communication skills are important in reading and writing. Students learn how to articulate words and form sentences because they hear it when they are being read to.

    There are so many benefits to reading to children. While it may be difficult with the hectic lives that people live today, just looking at the benefits would make it seem like it is worth it to find five minutes to read a story to your child. Reading bedtime stories is one of my favorite memories. Reading to children at home lays the foundation for literacy skills that are crucial in a child’s lifetime.

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