'The Reading Mother'
'You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be-
I had a mother who read to me.'
This poem by Strickland Gillilan is on the introduction page of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, a man who knows a thing or two about the benefits and importance about reading aloud to children.
Reading aloud to a child does marvelous things. It's relaxing for both parent and child. It's fun. It provides oppurtuntiy to ask questions or share. It creates a bond between parent and child. It introduces the child to new and advanced vocabulary and concepts. Most importantly, reading aloud to a child provides them with a reading role model; you the parent.
While Gillilan credits his Mother with this enriching experience, both parents should begin reading aloud to their child at birth. Babies respond to the sounds of your voice and some studies suggest it is this early introduction to language that prepares them for language acquisition. Toddlers who are read aloud to regularly have larger vocabularies than their peers. Reading aloud to pre-school children and school age children three times a week increases the likelihood that their reading scores will be in the top 25% in standardized testing.
A love of reading really is the most important gift a parent can give a child. Books like The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children by Eden Ross Lipson, can help you find appropriate books to share with any age child. Or better yet, drop by the Childen's Department and let us help, because children are not the only ones who benefit from curling up with a good book being read aloud!