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Good Reading Skills Begin at Birth

Too Small to Fail
By Too Small to Fail

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released a report showing that the nation’s 9 and 13 year-olds are doing better in reading than at any point since 1971. The report went on to show that the achievement gap between black, Hispanic, and white students has narrowed significantly.

This is good news for students and for the nation, but there is more work to do, given that more than 34 percent of third-graders still do not read at grade level.

This is a startling statistic that underscores the point that most of these children will have difficulty with academic achievement throughout their lives.

In fact, many of the same children who struggle with early reading will not complete high school, and may experience behavior problems, depression, and low self-esteem. Good reading skills translate directly into good language skills and critical thinking, both vital for better learning and job performance later in life.

These skills are developed in infancy when a baby starts to understand language by connecting concepts with symbols—a picture of a furry, four-legged animal with the word “dog”, for example.

Parents and caregivers can help babies build early literacy skills by talking, reading, or singing to children. The more words a baby hears, the richer her vocabulary becomes and the more she is willing to learn down the road.

Research also shows that the less television and DVDs babies and young children are exposed to, the better, given that overexposure can actually detract from a child’s ability to absorb language. Young children rely on hand gestures, facial expression, and tone to understand what is being said and construct a vocabulary of their own.

With time and attention, kids can develop a lifelong passion for words that will follow them the rest of their lives.

Learn More:

  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading provides a number of resources for parents and advocates to help develop grade-level reading and avoid common pitfalls like “the summer slide.”   Read more »
  • Children pattern their media consumption – a potential deterrent to establishing good reading skills – after parents, and television time is no different.  Read more »

Recent News:

  • A new report from the National Assessment of Education Progress shows that 9 and 13 year-olds are doing better in reading than at any point since 1971.  Read more »
  • Time’s Health and Family proves that it’s not just words that help kids build a stronger vocabulary.  Read more »
  • Parade magazine has nine vital tips for building your child’s vocabulary.  Read more »
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