Over a number of years there have been issues raised concerning the literacy levels of eight year old children in schools. The number not meeting minimum literacy levels was almost at 30% only a few years ago. It has since improved but is still a concern to teachers and parents alike.
It seems the desire for consumer goods and pressure for both parents to maintain employment is robbing our next generation of the precious time spent nuturing them with stories and preparing them for school. Reading only three stories a day to preschool children would probably have them excelling once they reached school age and almost wipe out the issue of illiteracy in our schools in years to come.
Children who are read to as a part of their everyday life understand the simplest aspects of reading. Concepts like reading from left to right, that text and pictures are different, and how stories evolve, that they have a beginning, middle and ending.
There are other benefits, many of them occurring on a social level. Children and parents who read stories together have valuable bonding time. The story itself may help children to address fears or concerns they may have which can be discussed. The book itself acts as a platform for further enquiry and imagination for the child. This aids in self-expression, vocabulary and the ability to concentrate for given lengths of time.
For parents who are concerned about selecting 'the right' content for a story, don't be. It is the enjoyment of sitting down and reading together that brings value. Rhyming books are often funny and children love the absurd. Scary books can help children work through their fears. Just think about most fairytales, most end in some gruesome way which children do not seem to be disturbed by. Keep in mind the visual appeal of the book, children are captivated by images as well as hearing the words.
Once your child has connected with a book expect to be asked to read it again and again. It may drive you slightly insane but children benefit from this repetition. With each read they are able to gain more from the book and even when they know what is over the page they still get a thrill each and every time. Just like hearing your favourite song come onto the radio.
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