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Reading is Crucial

Tips for parents about reading to their children at an early age

  • Read to your young children early and frequently. It is never too early to start reading to children. Early reading together has a positive influence on many aspects of language development, including communication skills, word knowledge, and later reading ability. Research finds that reading frequency is more important than social economic class in predicting language growth: parents should read to children almost every day. However, according to a recent analysis of National Survey of Children’s Health data, less than half of the children entering kindergarten this year were read to by a family member every day during the past week.

  • Modeling and talking about reading are also important. recent study found that children are more likely to later read outside of school if their parents not only read to them while young but also gave them book recommendations, read themselves where children could see them reading, and had discussions with their children about books.

  • Establish a set reading time each day for you and your children. Research shows that parents who work full time read less with their children. Having a set routine, such as reading at bath time or bedtime, may help parents to remember to read every day with their children. Establishing routines helps children anticipate reading and understand that reading is important.

  • Choose books that match your child’s developmental stage and interests. When choosing books, make sure that they are not too difficult for your child to understand and that the book’s topic will be something your child will enjoy. Think about your child’s interests and choose books that match those interests.  Here is a list of the types of books recommended for children ages zero to five by Reading is Fundamental, a non-profit organization that supports early reading.

There are a number of major programs in the U.S. that encourage young children’s language and literacy skills. Here’s the Clinton Foundation’s initiative focused on closing the word gap—the gap in the number of words young children from middle and upper income families have heard and the (lower) number heard by their peers from low-income families. It’s called Too Small to FailReach Out and Read, another nonprofit, partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. Raising A Reader helps families build and sustain reading routine.

Download our Read Aloud Matters brochure